20060202

How I organized my wine stash: The results are in and the results are online

ManageYourCellar.com logo free cellar tracking database web softwareI work in an office that governs an enormous Oracle database. My job includes finding ways to get people to manage the information correctly. In the office lunchroom, much to my satisfaction, if you want to use the fridge, you've got to use a sticker to label your lunch.

But it the control issues go further than that. I guess you could say that I take my work home with me: I love labelling, sorting, analyzing and generally crunching data. With that in mind, it's no surprise that I encourage wine lovers to get themselves a cellar management system. Even if you don't naturally gravitate towards organizational behaviour, and even if you don't even have a real cellar, there are important reasons why you should think about getting your bottles in order.

After much effort at the last minute, I finished uploading my collection of red wines to ManageYourCellar.com. All I want to do now is play around with my new sortable online data! But before I do, I will take a moment to say that I really recommend this particular system. It's easy to use and entirely free. This, along with the fact that it is online, made it pretty much a shoe-in as my tool of choice, though other tools like Tony Aspler: The Wine Guy (sorry Tony, didn't mean to call you a tool) and Cellar! Wine Software, CellarTracker! have free demos available online. (All those exclamation marks -- you can almost tell they are trying to get you to buy something at some point.)

ManageYourCellar.com on the other hand has no hidden fees (or exclamation marks). And it is quite straightforward. Once you understand the idea that certain bits of the data on the system are integral and cannot be changed, you can speed along with the upload process -- even using a multi-bottle form for entering your bottles in batches. Then you supply your own personal information which hang off the records on the system. This is the info that you maintain yourself. If a particular wine has not already been entered into the database, then you can initiate an entry for it, checking to ensure that such a wine is not already listed.

Obviously, as with any database, integrity of data is important. In the world of wine, which can be an adventure in deciphering languages and labels, the need to speak in common terms is essential, above all for a database. It is clear that Catherine Granger, the inventor of ManageYourCellar.com, strives to keep duplicates from propagating on the system. Catherine is concerned about keeping the data in good shape, and as she personally indicated to (paranoid) me, she backs up user data on a separate server each night to protect against the data loss of a system crash.

Catherine is a very responsive cellar master too. She is prompt in replying to queries and I believe she is friendly enough to respond to her community's suggestions for improvement. I'm thinking of suggesting a table to show the estimated price versus the acquired price. Maybe there is a way to do this already and I need explore the software further, but it seems to me that while the estimated value can be displayed in a column, the acquisition cost value cannot. Perhaps a report could put these numbers back-to-back, and even better, automatically calculate the total spent versus the total value. That would really interest me and my bargain-hunting tendencies.

In any case, you can see my cellar online if you are interested. As a registered user, I can select those people who have viewing access to my information. The catch is you have to be identifiable to the system, meaning you do need to register with ManageYourCellar.com. That is simple enough though, since little more than a email address is necessary (the email address is for identification rather than for mass mailouts, as I can say that I am not being bombarded by incoming messages). Please drop me a line if you are part of this interesting online community. Here's to happy cellaring.

4 comments:

Tim Jacobs said...

How do you feel about bottlecount.com? That's what I use and I've been happy with it (free).

But you're absolutely right; online cellar maintenance is the only way to go.

Cheers,
Tim

g58 said...

Hi Tim,

I was not aware of bottlecount.com when I spent some time shopping around. How did you hear of it? And what do you find are its strongest features? I guess each user has a slightly different focus when they organize their stuff. I figure "customizable", goes right up there after "online" in terms of key qualities in a database.

Catherine Granger said...

Hi Marcus,
when I started working on ManageYourCellar.com, I was first thinking about my own requirements. But now, I am so glad to see happy users like you that are finding this tool as useful as I do.

Tim Jacobs said...

Sorry for the late reply. I can't remember how I stumbled onto bottlecount.

There's nothing really special about it. I'm just used to it.

My cellar-management needs are minimal. I have about 280 bottles (and deleting daily!). I just need something that keeps an accurate count of my goods, and that allows some space for tasting notes. I primarily use it for a basic count, though.

I use gmail drafts to store my tasting notes until I release them on the crush.