The Food and Wine Hedonist

leave your inhibitions at the door

Calling All Wine Ninjas – How Do You Organize Your Cellar?

We’ve been in the current Casa del Hedonist for a little over two years and finally am getting around to organizing my wine.   The basement was completely empty and we’ve since finished it. Our architect is a good friend and, perhaps selfishly, carved out a section of the basement for a wine room.

cellar des


Basement construction finished last year, but the wine room had to stay empty for a while.




It stayed empty because I was having a tough time figuring out what direction to go design-wise.  Would it be modern, traditional, transitional, mid-century modern?    I also couldn’t figure out what kind of racks to use –materials, colors, pre-made, etc.

But it mainly stayed empty because that stuff costs a fortune.

Fast-forward to a few weeks ago… Boom Boom’s brother was coming up for a week or two and offered to do some free work around the house – car repair, landscaping, carpentry, whatever.   Key word – CARPENTRY.     So I came up with a design, bought all the materials and put him to work on custom cabinets.

Here’s a the dry fitting …

wine cabs dry


Then it had to get primed….

wine cabinets primed


And finally…

wine cabs installed


There’s still some touch-ups I need to do as well as figure out storage for the areas above the cabinets.  But it’s a start.

Here’s where I can use help from you Wine Ninjas out there.   No, no, no – not DRINKING.     I was planning on organizing by region, which is how wine shops commonly do it.   But I’ve also seen some shops organize by varietal as well.

I also read that some people organize by the type of wine –

keanu wine org


There’s also The Winegetter’s method – a bunch of boxes stacked in his basement each filled with different kinds of wines from different regions with absolutely no logic to it so that he and only he knows that the good stuff is in that one box at the bottom and any potential poachers will have to go through four others filled with obscure Reislings.  That method.

So, Wine Ninjas, how should I organize it?   Are there any other ways?





About thefoodandwinehedonist

I don't know everything about the world of food and wine, but I'm not going to let a small detail like that stop me from blogging about it.

18 comments on “Calling All Wine Ninjas – How Do You Organize Your Cellar?

  1. the winegetter
    August 5, 2015

    My method totally works! 🙂

    If I had to organize a cellar properly, I’d go by region. It’s just how my brain functions. I find the varietal organization odd, it throws me off when I am in a wine store that does it.

    I’d add in a section for Boom Boom, so she knows she can grab any bottle there any time without ruining your marriage, and I’d likely have a section dedicated to dessert/fortified wine. But other than that, I’d go with region…which in my case would mean that half of the cellar would have to be devoted to “Untermosel, Obermosel, Mittelmosel, Saar, Ruwer, Rheinhessen”, you get the gist.

  2. thewineraconteur
    August 5, 2015

    John, I am not sure what happened to my first response to you, I think WordPress didn’t like that I tried to do any end run around them. That is a great room. I try to keep all of my whites together, by varietal. Then I have a section for French Red, then Domestic Reds set up by varietal, then followed by Italy, Spain et al. I keep the bubbles in different racks because of the larger size of the bottles as they do not fit in my regular racks. I also have a rack for every day wine, wine that I can cook with, and wine that I can give as a quick gift or a bonus to a handyman. My cellar is just an over-sized closet and right now there is close to 1400 bottles, so in some areas there is a bit of a mess going on. I have cellar envy, I cannot even turn around in my cellar. Just open up a couple of bottles of wine and you will get some volunteers over there to help the set up, just be patient and realize that you may have to do it a couple of times, until you are happy. Also try to keep the good stuff on the lowest levels. Have fun.

  3. Michelle Williams
    August 5, 2015

    As I said in Texas we cannot and do not have basements. Therefore a wine cellar must either be a stand alone building on property, who has space for that, or created out of a room or closet or something, again room? Therefore, most people I know, including myself, just purchase multiple wine refrigerators. Mine are not organized in any particular order other than years they “come of age” to drink. Your room looks lovely! I am totally jealous!

  4. elizabeth
    August 5, 2015

    The shelving looks GORGEOUS. I’m super-jealous. I, on the other hand, do not really have much of a system for organizing wine:

    –special bottles go on the wine rack that can actually fit on our liquor shelves, i.e. two cheap-as-hell IKEA bookcases that can’t hold much
    –Other wine I’m hoarding that can’t fit on the rack goes in a cabinet and may actually get drunk at some point
    –Actual wines I do drink live in a box and get moved around as necessary/drank

    If I had a place to properly store them all I would go by region and then if possible would separate by varietal within those regions depending on the number of bottles.

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      August 5, 2015

      Thanks! I had an ikea thing that moved a few times so was a little rickery. I only put cheaper wines in there in case it finally gave up

  5. armchairsommelier
    August 5, 2015

    Beautiful wine cellar and shelving . . . I’m green with envy! I have a rather small cellar (it’s actually a cupboard under my basement stairs). I have room for about 350 bottles, and it’s stuffed to the gills. So my wine is terribly UN-organized and I follow the one out, one in method of organizing.

    BUT . . . someday when I get a proper cellar, I imagine I’d organize by region. And make good use of CellarTracker or some kind of cellar management system.

    Bravo and congratulations on the cellar!! Salud!

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      August 5, 2015

      Thanks! I used Cellar tracker b4 the move when i had a big wine fridge. I would do well with keeping up for about 2 weeks then reinventory after several months. So im not sure ill go back because im more scatterbrained now than then.

  6. foxress
    August 5, 2015

    Wow, it looks beautiful! If I had a wine room like that, I would organize old world by region and new world by varietal. Have fun setting it up.

  7. the drunken cyclist
    August 5, 2015

    Looks great! I organize by “nearest space available when purchased” and keep track of everything in Cellar Tracker. The wife is so intimidated by my cellar that she will never go down there. Ever.


    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      August 5, 2015

      I had a lock installed on ours in anticipation of our kids’ curiousity. Boom Boom doesnt have key, but i know ill catch hell if i lock her out. Shes not intimidated easily, sonshe takes whatever she wants. :S

      Think i like Olivers suggestion of a Boom Boom section

  8. domingosaurus
    August 5, 2015

    Ummmm…Alphabetical order? Duh?

  9. Forty Ounce
    August 11, 2015

    I’d organize be emotion and horny-inducing levels. So you’ve got reds over here by cold weather and I want to feel warm, then within that from thick n juicy to tame.
    Then over here you’ve got cool whites for the hot summers, where buttery chardonnays wash your soccer mom woes away, and then the pinot grigios get you some good head, and then, the zinfandels are for when your “so-so” friends come over and you need something safe.

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      August 11, 2015

      Then there the tequila section with the secret compartment with duct tape and rope

      • Max D.
        August 16, 2015

        Oh my.
        (Did you sneak a peek at my tequila-duct tape-rope cellar?)

  10. Max D.
    August 16, 2015

    Since we lie in a home without a basement, I rely on my trusty and local wine seller to store my wine. They have the perfect cool, dark cellar. When I first started drinking wine, and my collection was tiny, I just kept the wine boxed up in a corner of our bedroom. This particular corner is a wonder of thermodynamics. It is always cool, regardless of season.

    Originally I arranged by year, but once my collection surpassed fifty bottles, it wasn’t practical or convenient. Now my wine is still in boxes, but arranged by region. The less I know about a place, the less specific the box: so I have “Bandol” boxes, but also “Australia” and “USA” boxes. (Actually, I only have one bottle from Australia.)

    I agree with the winegetter, who doesn’t like the varietal arrangement method. But this might be a topic for another day: in the absence of apps that do the thinking for us, how do we buy (and later store) a wine we’ve never heard of? Store recommendation? Region? Varietal? Year? Color?

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This entry was posted on August 5, 2015 by in Drinking and tagged , , , .
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