A 48-Bottle Beginner Cellar

Keep it simple to start. Don’t buy too many different types of wine until you have explored your palate preferences. Forty-eight bottles represent four cases that can fit in the bottom of a closet.

A 48-Bottle Beginner Cellar

For diversity I would purchase three bottles of each of the following wines, which will give you and interesting mix and a sufficient range of flavours an styles to meet most of your dining needs. You don’t need to spend more than an average of $20 per bottle to acquire such a collection.


  • Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand (or Sancerre or Pouilly-Fumé from the Loire): a dry white with flavours of passion fruit, gooseberry, and freshly cut grass, with lively acidity
  • Chardonnay from California (Sonoma): a rich, full-bodied wine with buttery tropical fruit flavours and an evident spicy vanilla oak
  • Unoaked Chardonnay (Chablis): a medium-bodied dry wine with a crisp apple and mineral flavour
  • Off-dry Riesling (Riesling Kabinett from Germany): a light-bodied wine with a fine balance of fruit and acidity and apricot, honey, and citrus flavours
  • Pinot Gris from Alsace: a full-bodied wine with a sweet peach and citrus acidity
  • Viognier (Pays d’Oc or Chile): another full-bodied wine with peach and orange-blossom notes and a touch of residual sweetness
  • Sparkling wine (Brut style): Spanish cava or Australian sparkling. A medium-bodied dry bubbly with mineral, apple and citrus flavours


  • Beaujolais-Villages or one of the named village crus: light- to medium-bodied, with fruity cherry and plum flavours and lively acidity
  • Shiraz from Australia or South Africa: full-bodied with blackberry and pepper flavours and a spicy oak finish
  • Cabernet Sauvignon (a petit château from Bordeaux): medium-bodied with cedar, blackcurrant and vanilla oak flavours
  • Camenère from Chile: full-bodied and fruit-forward, with black cherry/blackberry flavours and vanilla oak
  • Malbec from Argentina: medium to full-bodied, with jammy blackberry and white pepper flavours and an oak component
  • Pinot Noir from New Zealand or Oregon: medium-bodied, with black cherry, raspberry, and violet flavours
  • Zinfandel from California (or Primitivo from Italy): powerful and full-bodied, with plum, leather and oak flavours
  • Côtes-du-Rhône Villages: full-bodied, with peppery blackberry flavour and balancing acidty
  • Rosé (dry) from Tavel or Ontario: dry, with rhubarb and strawberry flavours. Very refreshing. You’ll find that a dry rosé is the perfect summer drink, especially out of doors

Excerpted from Tony Aspler’s Cellar Book Copyright © 2009 by Tony Aspler. Excerpted by permission of Random House Canada, a division of Random House of Canada Limited. All rights reserved.

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