Reader Jules submitted the following to Ask Unclutterer:
I had a party and I bought a lot of wine for it–four cases–much more than I ended up needing. As guests arrived, they came bearing bottles of wine as hostess gifts–30 more bottles. Now I have more wine than I can store or possibly drink in a reasonable amount of time. I know a bit about wine, but a lot of the bottles I received as gifts aren’t ones I’ve tried before. How do I decide what to keep and what to get rid of? Also, what do I do with the bottles I don’t want to keep? I don’t want them sitting around my house cluttering up the kitchen, but I don’t want to waste them by throwing them away. I know it’s illegal for me to sell them. What should I do–oh gurus of simple living–with more than 60 bottles of wine?
Jules, you have yourself in an interesting predicament. Let me begin by answering your question about which bottles to keep and which bottles to get out of your home. Log onto The Wine Buyer or a similar site and learn about the bottles of wine your friends gifted to you. (Your friends are good friends, by the way. I recommend keeping your friends.) Check out the ratings and the descriptions of the flavor for each bottle of wine. If what you learn about a wine interests you, put the bottle in your “keep” pile. If it doesn’t interest you, put it in a “purge” pile. I also recommend that as you’re reading about the wine that you write some notes for yourself about the bottles. These notes will be helpful in the weeks and months to come when you’re deciding what bottle of wine to pair with a meal or event.
The bottles of wine that you bought for the party that you didn’t end up serving can most likely be returned to the store where you purchased them. Most stores will accept returns on any unopened reds and any unopened and unchilled whites (if you chilled it, it’s yours). Just be sure to take your receipt with you when you head back to the store.
The remaining wines that made it into your “purge” pile have many exciting opportunities for their future. You can have another party, serve the extra wine, and give each guest a parting wine bottle gift. (Name the party “Jules’ Wine Blowout!” and write things like “All wine must go!” on the invitations. Don’t forget to put “no gifts, please, especially wine” on the invite, too.)
You could encourage another friend to have a party and donate all of your wine to him/her for the celebration. You can head to a local harbor and start christening ships (this is a joke, don’t do this, people will get mad). You could go door-to-door in your neighborhood and give wine to your neighbors as “thank you” gifts for putting up with the noise from your party.
Dave, a knowledgeable gent who works at my local Total Wine, gave me a great suggestion for your “wounded soldiers” (those partially consumed bottles that are in the bar at the end of the party). Pour the remaining wine into ice cube trays, freeze, then pop the wine cubes out and store in ziptop plastic bags in your freezer. The next time a recipe calls for wine, drop in a frozen wine cube instead of opening a new bottle.
Our readers may have more suggestions for what to do with the excess wine, so be sure to check the comments for more ideas. I’m sure that this is a predicament that non-drinkers run into from time-to-time. Not being able to sell the wine bottles you received as hostess gifts really does make things more difficult. Thank you, Jules, for submitting your question for our Ask Unclutterer column.
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