Why Wine Collecting by the Case Makes Sense in Germany

wine by the crate

When I left Germany, I collected more than 350 bottles of wine from all over Europe. I’ve collected wine from Germany, Italy, France, Hungary, Greece, and Spain by the case. To ship it, I had to inventory each bottle. I started by collecting the price, alcohol content, and where I bought it for the extensive customs forms I knew I’d have to complete to get it all shipped home courtesy of the US Government.

Thank you for reading this post, don't forget to subscribe!
wine-pantry Why Wine Collecting by the Case Makes Sense in Germany

Collecting Wine

Honestly, some of my friends thought I was crazy. You know Stacey, they’d say, you can buy wine in the US. It didn’t surprise me one bit that I had a few friends who shipped back more than me. We thought we were so smart! Now we laugh because we all lament that we should have shipped A HELUVA LOT more.

Of course, I knew that I could buy wine here. But I had a feeling, call it a premonition if you must, that I would have a hard time finding a great wine for the equivalent 5 or 6 Euro ($7-8) per bottle I had grown accustomed to paying. In Europe, if I found something I liked, I wouldn’t buy a bottle or two, I’d buy a case or two. I’d drive for hours to explore new vineyards with friends or on my own. I called it chasing the sun and I loved to taste the fruits of my labor.

On a beautiful day, I’d crank up my music, peel back my sunroof, and feel the warmth on my Vitamin D deficient skin. Don’t laugh. Where I lived in Baumholder Germany, many people were diagnosed with vitamin D deficiency for lack of sunshine. I wasn’t one of them because I got out when I could!!

Wine by the Case

On wine shopping trips, I’d purchase one to store and one to drink. And if I happened to drink both, I’d make another trip to get more. I stored them lovingly on their side (to keep the cork wet) in the coolest corner of my tiny German apartment. No wine should be stored in direct sunlight. And reds, believe it or not, should be stored/ drunk at room temperature or a chilly 60 degrees. And in three years, I had more wine than I thought I could drink in a reasonable amount of time. I was wrong. A year and a half later and my American pantry turned wine closet, once filled to the brim with wine and champagne, is being depleted fast.

Like it? Pin it!

www.dcomuffelbagspouse.-683x1024 Why Wine Collecting by the Case Makes Sense in Germany

Wine Closet

Now it’s just a constant reminder that my exploits along the German and French wine routes are just a distant memory. Thankfully I take great notes!! And granted by many people’s standards I still have a considerable amount of wine on hand. I have less than 100 bottles that I ration myself to one bottle per week. If I drink anything else, its bought from one of the local wineries. The top and bottom two shelves serve as wine-related storage. Sadly, I don’t have any wine on them at all.

Special Occasion Wine

The majority of wines left from those, let’s say glory days, are gifts, decorative/ specialty wines and spirits I bought with little intention to drink that will one day decorate the wine cellar of my dreams. I’m not going to drink the sangria with the bolero hat bottle cap Rebs bought me from Spain or open the gorgeous sculpture-like bottle of Tokaji I bought on a girls trip to Hungary or even the magnum bottle of Cremant I found on my doorstep the morning of my 46th birthday, put there by my dear friend Cindy—unless she happens to visit—and then anything goes. They all represent deep memories I can relive over and over again for free.

However, there is one notable exception— a very expensive bottle of champagne I bought on a day trip to Epernay. Deep in Champagne country, the cellars of Mumm and Moet & Chandon are open to the public with a reservation and it is where you can find happiness in a bottle.

Dom Perignon

Don’t misunderstand, I am no champagne connoisseur, a matter of fact, I don’t like champagne even a quarter as much as wine. But I do like to have a couple of bottles on hand to make mimosas on a beautiful Sunday morning or toast impromptu graduations or special occasions.

And who hasn’t heard of Dom Perignon? I paid 35 Euro (or less than $45) for their Grand Vintage tasting and toured a mile or so of their cool, labyrinth-like 17 mile long tunnels where the champagne is stored. I tasted 2 flutes, a white and rose, with 10-12 Chinese tourists (trust me when I say there are always Chinese tourists at the vineyards) who had arrived on the 2 massive tour buses outside. And like any good business that caters to tourists, the tour ended in the store where I bought a bottle of Dom Perignon that retailed for $1200 for the bargain-basement price of $200.

I haven’t popped that cork yet, mainly because I made the mistake of telling my husband how much it costs, and now we are waiting for a hyper-special occasion to drink it. If it were up to me, I would have enjoyed it by now, but as we approach our 20th wedding anniversary, I’m grateful to have something so unique to experience on that occasion. It is a great bottle of bubbly, and I have a wonderful experience with it.

By the Case

There was one thing I didn’t count on when I moved back to the United States. I had no idea there were more than 300 wineries in Virginia, two of which are less than 30 minutes from my front door. And another 5-6 more in around an hour or so. I wish I could say more than that, but I can’t. It’s just not the same.

Wineries in the area are lovely, offering beautifully appointed tasting rooms. And that’s one huge difference, In Germany, not France, they don’t spend a crazy amount of money on tasting rooms. In fact, they are pretty cozy and can be in the family’s living room. French tasting rooms along the German border are quaint too–but once you hit those BIG wine producers in Bordeaux were talking fairytale inspiring chateaux. I really want one.

I Need a Special Occasion

Here you are tempted with a long list of wines to taste–for a fee. And invariably you’ll find something you like. The first thing I noticed was a fee for the pour, which is extremely light compared to what I had gotten used to in Germany. Secondly, the vineyards are off-limits to the public, marked with very prominent no trespassing signs, barbed wire, and often protected by guard dogs. I visited a few vineyards where entrance into the vines are restricted to tour groups. You sit on the porch or within the walls of the tasting room and watch them from a distance. What a shame.

The aroma of the vines is intoxicating and adds to the whole experience. The worst part is there is little to no incentive to purchase the wines directly from the winery. The price is comparable at any wine or grocery store in the area. If I’m only saving a buck or two, I might as well buy it from Total Wine or Harris Teeter and watch a YouTube clip of other people walking through vineyards. Tsk tsk.

wine-walk Why Wine Collecting by the Case Makes Sense in Germany

I Don’t Buy Wine by the Case Anymore

I haven’t found that many wines I buy by the case anymore. Not because I haven’t tasted anything good since I’ve been back, but because the price is prohibitive. I’ve lucked up and found a few reasonably priced drinking or table wines, both red and white. And I’ve tasted some medium-priced wines between $16-25 per bottle, but at that price, a case is out of the question. I love the free tastings at Total Wine on the weekend. It’s a great opportunity to taste some wines I can’t afford…right now… who am I kidding… EVER!! I just add them to my journal for future reference.

Wine is So Much More Expensive in the US

Wine Shopping in the US

On a recent trip to the wine store, I noticed a bottle of Riesling from the Mosel Valley for $70. Honey, that was my stomping ground. Bernkastel Kues, Boppard, and Traben Trabach are picturesque little wine towns I frequented often. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I drank this for less than $10 when I lived in Germany. And I dusted it off and returned it to the shelf where it belonged. While I do love collecting wine, I’m not crazy.

My friends know this too. Just last week I received a bottle of my favorite Greek wine from a German girlfriend who went home for a visit. And bless their heart, the owners of Poseidon Restaurant, in Idar Oberstein, where I ate many a meal, gave her a bottle to give to me.

Greek Wine Memories

OK, on a side side side note… my husband and I had just returned from Greece. He asked if they had any Mythos, a Greek beer he enjoyed on our trip. Mama explained that they didn’t sell it, but that her son might have some in his personal fridge. A few minutes he came back with the Mythos on a tray, pouring it with a hearty smile. Since you are drinking my beer, you are now my friend and there is no charge and we’ve been friends ever since. We wouldn’t think of eating Greek food anywhere else in Germany but Poseidon and can’t wait to go back in person.

My Friends Know Me Well & Wine Gifts

Matter of fact many of the gifts I have received over the years have been corked or cork related. I say cork related because I’ve received bottle stoppers, wine charms, decorative plaques, napkins, wine glasses, decanters, and Christmas ornaments… one of my favorites!! I’ve also received bottles that are opened with a twist of the wrist. Twist cap bottles are all the rage now.

Many of the well-known wineries offer a pretty tasty wine sans the cork. And while I resisted them for years, I now know that a twist top is not a sure-fire way to determine the merit of wine anymore. Some have even been poured from cartons. Again, don’t judge. I’m not averse to drinking wine out of a cardboard box on occasion. I actually love taking them on picnics and they are great when you can’t finish an entire bottle–which does happen from time to time.

One day I hope to re-stock my wine pantry again and start collecting wine by the case again. But for now, I enjoy my wine… bottle to bottle.

Like it? Pin it!

5D0C79C0-48A5-4B4C-A1EE-36F9B9722A34-576x1024 Why Wine Collecting by the Case Makes Sense in Germany

Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *