Thursday, August 23, 2007

Don’t Wine About It

I drone on and on about it, but I enjoy a nice glass of wine from time to time. I mowed the back lawn this evening and then sat out on the patio, listened to the radio and enjoyed a beer while the sweat on my face dried. It was peaceful, looking out over all that I own (at least after the 354 more monthly payments) and the beer was refreshing. Wine wouldn’t have held up under such demands. No way is a glass of wine refreshing, nor does it slake the thirst of someone who just did two dozen laps with the mower, but for some reason it gets lofted up onto a pedestal and admired as a high-class drink. Wine is for leaning on the mantle or sitting on one of those wrought iron settees while discussing how well your relationship has been progressing. Nobody has ever said, “The guys are coming over for football, can you pass the corkscrew?”

But it is just a bunch of crushed grapes, thrown into a vat.

At any rate, I have decided that I’m going to become a wine collector. I realized as of late that I no longer collect anything of interest. When I was a kid, I collected all kinds of things. I had a stamp collection, one that was rather thrust upon me, and I don’t remember who it was (my grandmother, I think), but one day, she decided that I collected stamps. Every time I saw her, she had a tightly rubberbanded bundle of stamps, freshly cut from envelops. I also collected business cards, and up until a few years ago, there was no question in my mind that I was the only one on the planet that collected business cards, quite literally, just me and no one else. Well, who knew. See Here. So, I’ve got about 30,000 business cards gathering dust in a box in the attic. I don’t collect them anymore, but it has been engrained in my psyche (most things you do in repetition as a kid is) to never throw out a business card, so from time to time, when I think I’ve gathered up a good number of them, I trek to the attic and make a deposit.

Also, I collected Buffalo paraphernalia… and what exactly is that, you ask? Anything really, related to the American Buffalo, indeed my favorite animal. The collection (also in boxes in the attic) runs the gamut from small trinkets I picked up when I was young to expensive statues made from exotic materials (I have one made from the ashes of Mt. St. Helens). So, the next time you’re in my house, wander around and see how many buffaloes you can find. And yep, there's an organization for them too.

Now, I think I’ll go with wine, but where am I going to put it all? When I was younger and still living at home, then girlfriend Kara and I belonged to the Wine of the Month Club, which is basically a clearing house for wine that they force on unsuspecting people, because (as we found out), anyone who knows anything about anything doesn’t get it from a “of the month” type club. In fact, we still have some of it, which should just be right to brine some pickles in by now.

To store all of that wine, I obtained a wire rack that wasn’t too expensive but big enough to hold 25 bottles. I figured that I would never have any more than that. I mean, really, what good would more than 25 bottles of wine do lying about? Over the years, it has served us well, as we rotated through the wine and the rack was only full a few times (overflow was handled by another smaller rack that sat on the counter).

Then the kids came, and we thought we were lucky indeed to be able to sneak away for an hour or so before bed to have a glass of wine. Sadly, that was it, and the rest of the wine went bad in the fridge the following week… so our wine started to stack up. We joined a few wineries and ended up filling up all available space in our rack, as well as another one my brother got us for Christmas a few years back, and so bottle started getting stuck under chine hutches and in the corners of closets. As if we were alcoholics hiding our stash of vino.

This last trip to Paso Robles broke the bank, and the three case of wine convinced us that we needed a proper storage facility to house our growing collection. But where?

I heard from a neighbor that they had cut a hole in the unusable space underneath the stairs and had installed a wine fridge, and that sounded nice except that a wine fridge to store the number of bottles we have is entirely cost prohibitive, plus, I don’t think I want a fridge jutting out of some random wall in our living room. Kara had been looking for a place where she could set up a scrapbooking table, and I had plans of converting a downstairs walk-in closet with a built-in table, some shelves and whatever else she might need to do her scrapbooking (which I haven’t seen hide or hair of in over a year). So, that space is spoken for.

Or was it? For whatever reason, our actual entry hall closet had no facilities to hang coats, and whenever someone came over with a coat, it got hung in that walk-in closet, along with all of our board games and the flotsam and jetsam that accumulates in an average house. Basically, if you don’t know where to put it, put it in the closet and forget about it. I imagined Kara’s scrapbook room to meet the same fate, making it completely useless… so why not nix the whole thing? Kara wouldn’t use it as frequently as maybe even she would like and I’d hate to see all of my work go unused, so let’s put that room to good use.

Let’s make an above ground wine cellar. That way, I’d have a place to put all of my wine and it would be big enough to accommodate all future purchases. So, I’d need lots of space and that closet (60 by 60 inches) is perfect.

As with everything I do, I logged in hours of research. How to make it, what I need, what to look for, equipment I’ll need, and as a result, I discovered that there’s no way in hell I could afford to make a proper wine cellar. For starters, I’d have to tear the room down to the studs, add an A/C, a dehumidifier, special drywall, special insulation, a new door, lighting and flooring, not to mention the storage system. This was nearing a five-digit dollar project. The wine racks I needed were nearly a grand all by themselves, and they were nothing but pine slats screwed to a frame.

Wait a second. Pine slats screwed to a frame. I can screw wood together. In fact, I screw up a lot of stuff… wood can be one of them, for sure. Why can’t I start the ball rolling by getting a wine rack built. As with anything, I drew up the plans for a monstrous wine rack, big enough to hold 250 bottles, consuming the entire room. It would be grand.

As it turns out, it took the better part of three days to build. I used 620 screws and nearly 300 linear feet of 1x2 pine slats. Though I’m no carpenter (I’d make a terrible Jesus), it turned out pretty good; at least the wine is off the floor and there’s no suspicious creaking sounds indicating it might come crashing down at any minute. There were speed bumps, of course, like how I got into the groove of cutting one-foot lengths of wood for the slats and I ended up cutting all of my wood instead of saving some of it for other parts…and how I learned a valuable geometric lesson: You can’t spin a 60-inch-wide wine rack around a 60 by 60-inch room without hitting the walls.

But, that aside, I’m on my way to having a nice wine cellar.

Wow, what a long boring story this was.

I’m really sorry.

Oh, but what became of my old wine rack? My neighbor took it. Wait, that wasn't as interesting as it sounded before I wrote it down. Sorry again.

God, the pictures I took even suck.

Will this post ever end?

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