Confessions of a Former Wine Shopaholic
All this chatter about Château Lafite, crazy prices, and selling prized bottles made me realize something the other day: I’m cured. Truly, fully cured. What do I mean? I mean this: I no longer care about adding to my cellar, maintaining verticals, obtaining the latest and the greatest, or any of the other things that used to drive me to buy wine—compulsively. There are no longer any must-have wines in my life; in fact, I haven’t added to my collection in months. Apart from everyday quaffers, my buying habit has been broken. And guess what? I am fine with that. I don’t miss the hunt. Perhaps that’s a strange admission coming from a wine writer, and one who in the not-so-distant past demonstrated a willingness to travel vast distances in pursuit of tasting pleasures. But the thrill of the chase really is gone.
Granted, I haven’t stopped collecting by choice; I’ve been sidelined by circumstance. Journalism is not exactly a lucrative profession, and with two young children, lots of bills to pay, and the looming specter of college tuitions (“keep working on that Title IX forehand, Ava; the coach at Stanford is gonna love it!”), I can no longer afford to stock up on my favorite Burgundies, Barolos, Northern Rhones, etc. I am out of the game. Given the zeal with which I used to pursue my quarry—scouring Wine-Searcher.com for d’Angerville, Fourrier, Dauvissat, Chave, Allemand, Giuseppe Mascarello, etc.—and the rush I would experience whenever I’d score a coveted bottle, I am surprised at how well I’ve adjusted to austerity. I haven’t lost any of my passion for wine and, sure, I’d still be buying if I had the dosh. But I don’t and I can’t, and it just doesn’t bother me.
I own probably three bottles of 2005 Burgundy. Yes, I was a little sad when the 2005 d’Angerville Clos des Ducs, a wine I had been collecting since the mid-90s, came out at $250 per bottle, but I quickly got over it. Discontinuing my vertical of Mascarello Monprivato hurt, too, but I moved on. I don’t own a single bottle of 2005 Bordeaux and couldn’t care less. Those delicious 2007 white Burgundies? Nada. 2004 Barolos and Barbarescos? Zilch. 2002 Champagne? Rien. Oh, I’ve squirreled away a few 2009 Beaujolais, and Huet is as affordable and irresistible as ever. But otherwise, my wallet is closed for business, my wine stash in a state of arrested development.
No question, the fact that I’m a wine writer has made it easier to curb the buying; because of my work, I still get to taste a lot of great wines. If I were being shut out completely, I might feel differently. I also think the glut of outstanding vintages that we’ve seen of late has helped. It is a bit of a paradox: all the buzz and hype has actually reduced my desire to buy. Nowadays, you can miss out on one epic year confident in the knowledge that another will materialize soon enough. I wouldn’t say I’ve become a more virtuous, mature, or enlightened grape nut (although the buying moratorium has certainly helped on the domestic tranquility front); that sounds sanctimonious, and again, if money were not an issue, I would still be loading up on Burgundies. But I must admit that it does feel pretty good to be able to walk into a wine shop now and not feel any temptation to whip out my credit card.
How about you? How have your buying habits evolved? Are you able to sit out great vintages, or does the call of the wine still get the better of you?