Tag Archives: Crate and Barrel

How to Build a Home Wine Collection

A couple of months ago, we did a post on How to Stock a Home Bar in Two Parts. We laid out an easy blueprint of follow for stocking an impressive bar on any budget, and steered clear of the shortcomings in most bar-stocking advice. One thing we mentioned then, that most writers on the subject neglect, is that wine does not belong on the bar. It belongs on the wine rack, separate from the bar.

Looking at an empty wine rack waiting to be filled can be an intimidating thing. We’ve found that when stocking the bar, the basic process is to stock one of each staple and then add and upgrade over time. A wine collection requires a bit of a different strategy though. For one thing, there’s just too much wine out there. A bar can be fairly comprehensive, but without a sizable cellar you can’t even begin to sample all of the wine in the world at once. Another key difference is that wine disappears much, much faster than liquor once it’s opened. That bottle of Cognac might last you a few years with nip here and a taste there… but a bottle of wine is gone the same day it’s opened.

A visual approximation of the wine cellar at the Chophouse.

In stocking the bar, we recommended that you first decide how many bottles your bar will encompass and pursue your buying strategy accordingly. The same holds true with wine. Our own rack is a Sloane model from Crate and Barrel, which is designed with storage for 15 bottles. We usually keep about 3 bottles on top as well, so we’re going to use 18 bottles in this example. 18 Bottles gives a little more variety, and represents 1 1/2 cases of wine.

Of 18 storage slots, we keep three of them filled with specialty wines. We like to keep on hand a bottle of Sake, a bottle of tawny port, and a bottle of Champagne. You never know when a dinner guest might drop by with sushi… and stay for mimosas in the morning. It’s best to be prepared.

Of the remaining 15 slots, we recommend dividing those up into threes. If you’re sharing wine with guests, you’ll need more than one bottle to ensure that there’s enough for everyone to be drinking the same thing. If you’re drinking alone and find a bottle you like, it’s better to have two more on hold than to have to go back to the store and find it again. With our decided preference for red wines over white, we elect to dedicate 9 of those slots to reds, and only 6 to whites. You may be the opposite, or may drink one or the other exclusively, in which case you’d adjust your ratio accordingly.

There are 12 bottles in a case of wine. We recommend buying wine by the half case or splitting a case in half. Most wine shops will give you a discount of 10-20% for buying 12 or more bottles, and some will give a smaller discount for buying six. Buying six of a variety at a time may not be ideal for your weekly paycheck, but it has the distinct advantage of allowing you to have your cake and eat it too. By drinking 3 bottles and keeping the other three, you’ll slowly be able to fill your rack with a selection of wines that’s big enough to provide variety, but small enough that you can be intimately familiar with each label. For the novice, continuing to buy and drink in this manner will allow you think and talk intelligently about a few wines right away, and over the course of time will enable you to actually learn quite a bit about grape varieties and growing regions, in a way that drinking one bottle or glass at a time never could.

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The Chop Endorses: The Dizzy Cocktail Glass

Whew! Well, that was a hell of a Halloween, don’t you think? We had a blast going out all weekend, but if there’s one thing we regret it’s got to be that we did so much reveling out on the town, there was scarcely any time left for imbibing at home.

We’ve finally got the dining room done. As in finished. As in ready to eat. The last step in that process involved (yet another) trip to Crate and Barrel where we found one of our new favorite things ever: the Dizzy Cocktail Glass.

The Dizzy Cocktail Glass is available at Crate and Barrel for $1.95 each.

We weren’t even really shopping for cocktail glasses, but we picked up six of these on a whim. As you know, we’re big on the double old-fashioned (DOF) glass, and we’ve already gone on record as being against stemmed cocktail glasses.

The Dizzy Cocktail is 4″ tall, and 4″ in diameter at the rim, which makes it appear to be about the same size as a DOF glass, but with the V-shape of a cocktail glass. It’s even got the same heft and weight in the hand as a DOF, thanks to the knot of glass that serves as the foot. (Which means less drips and drops when you’re holding it in your hand.)

This ‘foot’ is not your traditional glassware foot, but manages to serve the same purpose while looking much more modern and stylish. No matter how cold you mix your drinks, your furniture will stay dry and safe without the need of a coaster. The name ‘Dizzy’ might have been a poor choice though, because these glasses are very stable on the bar. It would take the same force and effort to spill one of these as with any other type of glass… they won’t tip over easily.

At 8 ounces, we feel they’re the perfect size for a straight up cocktail, and will even leave you a bit of room around the rim. They’ll also support a drink which calls for crushed ice, and can even pull double duty as an attractive dessert or appetizer dish. (Think shrimp cocktail, crab salad, or gourmet ice cream.)

The customer reviews on the C & B site all unanimously rave about these glasses, and with good reason. Most of them neglect to mention the best part though: the Dizzy glass is hand-blown and costs $1.95 each. Let us repeat that… $1.95!

At that price you can’t afford not to buy one. Drinking from this glass will make your cocktails more enjoyable, and by encouraging you to mix cocktails more often they’ll ultimately make you a better drinker at the end of the day. It’s not just any glass that can say that.

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Crate and Barrel has locations at Towson Town Center and Annapolis Mall, as well as several DC area locations.

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