Wine + Nerd = CellarTracker

So, anyone that spends time here probably knows that we like a good cocktail from time to time here at The Aerie.  But as hard as it is to believe, a good stiff drink isn’t always the right accompaniment for every occasion.  Sometimes you just have to have a good glass of wine.

Wine (as opposed to booze) is something that I’ve come to a little later in life.  When I was younger, I was intimidated by the somewhat snooty air that went along with the growing “wine culture” in America.  I mean, could I really taste “ripe berries” and “burnt oak” and “hints of melon” in the chianti being served at my local Italian joint?  Hardly.

And then I moved to California.

Wine is of course a huge industry here and for good reason – there are a lot of really good California wines.  And so, when I moved here, I started trying some and learned how to say “Pinot Noir” correctly so that I felt better about myself.  And two things happened, a) I began to know what I liked and b) I began not to care what other people (read: wine snobs) thought.

So, about the time we moved into The Aerie, the Beloved and I started taking more of an interest in wine – traveling to Sonoma County several times over the last couple of years.  There, we were able start finding some places that we liked and buying their wines, and over time, we built up a good little stash.

Which bring me to today’s timewaster: CellarTracker.  This is a free (though they ask for a donation) website where you can input the wines you have (and even the wines you want to have…) so that you know exactly what you’ve got, how it’s rated (both by the CellarTracker community and in major publications) and in cases of wines that need to be “laid-down”, when you should drink it.  

I have to say that the website is very easy to use, has a great searching algorithm (so that you don’t have to enter in everything precisely, it will find the wine for you from its database…) and if you’re a data-nerd like me, you can sort and sub-sort your wines in all sorts of interesting ways.

As it turns out, we have ~75 bottles of wine and I was able to get them all entered in maybe an hour and half.  Pretty cool.

There are also fields for you to enter private and/or public tasting notes (which I think would be useful for wines you have in restaurants and would like to jot something down before the next time you go to the store…) – though I give everyone free rein to come smack me if I write one with language like “overtones of ripe plums with hints of chocolate and coffee…”

Bottoms up!

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17 thoughts on “Wine + Nerd = CellarTracker

  1. Cool… I am going to play around with this thing. Sounds kind of like a Yelp for wine. I wonder how consumer ratings will compare to the critics. Though, I do find Yelp to often be unreliable in San Diego, but maybe that's because our the size of the contributing group is smaller than in places like the bay area.

  2. Hey-o, that looks neat!! Brian is a big fan of wine, but I have a hard time getting into it, for a lot of the reasons you described–namely, it kinda intimidates. (And sometimes–now I'm about to use a really professional, important term here, so take care: I find it yucky.)This is not a far cry from my [lack of] knowledge of wine.

  3. Hapa — I find on local-yelp (and on Amazon too) that there are too many 5s and too many 1s… everyplace is not the.best.ever nor is it the worst imaginable. In someways, I like the binary urban spoon "like-not-like".I think with only a couple of exceptions, we've found the CT comments to be pretty in-line with what we think about a wine.

  4. Hah! I'll have to remember "afterbirth" when I'm describing wines… :)Clearly, you're just drinking the wrong ones… might I suggest…this one? And there's no reason to drink something you think is yucky. I also thought it was yucky — like coffee. I've managed to acquire a taste for both. A good place to start is cold whites — they tend to be a little sweeter, a little smoother and less "earthy". They're like "gateway" wines… :)

  5. Whoa, Betz Family Winery! Is this just a coincidence or am I an airhead who was unaware of/forgot your awesome wine connections?You know, I actually don't mind white wines, I think I could definitely get used to them. I should probably give them more of a chance. It's just those blasted reds! But you make a good point–if I can drink coffee black now, I can probably grow to enjoy a good wine. :)

  6. That's a good point. And there's no way to differentiate the super-fancy places from the fast food joints. It's not really fair if In n' Out gets a 5 stars compared to Mille Fleur's 4 stars, for example.

  7. Wow! I have the same question – is the name of Betz family winery a coincidence or is it a family connection :)
    I have liked mostly red wines and have avoided white ones for some reason. Can't remember why. After reading your comments, I am tempted to try whites. I liked your description – 'they tend to be a little sweeter, a little smoother and less "earthy"' :)

  8. No — there's no family connection (I'm sure there is somewhere but nothing obvoius). They're actually really good wines, but generally out of our price range. Though if we're in WA-state sometime, we're definitely going to go. :)

  9. Vishy — no, just a coincidence as far as we can tell — though I think I should always keep a bottle or two around just for the shock value… :)I tend not to like the mass-produced over-oaked white wines — mostly California chardonnay. I just don't like the way they taste. There are some very good steel-aged ones and other varietals that are very light and tasty, though.

  10. Guess what! I live 7.82 miles from the Betz Family Winery. And to think that I have never gone wine tasting in the almost 2 years I have lived here. I should fix that ASAP.

  11. (OK, can you tell I'm catching up on blogs?)
    This looks really cool. I am so not a data person (mostly because I'm too lazy to write stuff down, especially during the post-wine relaxation phase), but I bet Brian will be all over it. I'm going to introduce him now. We tried to do something similar in an Excel file, but I really like the idea of comparing my thoughts to others'.

  12. For a free-application, it's pretty intuitive and easy (maybe not the most eye-pleasing interface). But it's great to see what you have and easily see what other thought of it and compare.

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