Today's oenophiles - from novices to pros - take their hobby to new heights with personalized wine cellars. It's easier than you think.
With apologies to the late Ogden Nash, candy is dandy, and liquor may be quicker, but wine, my friends, is very fine. So fine, in fact, that San Francisco's Wine Institute puts 2000 national sales figures at $19 billion, up nearly a billion dollars from 1999's sales and nearly double the figures of only 15 years ago.

And as they consume more, wine drinkers are becoming savvier. Gone are the days when your choices boiled down to red, white, or pink. Wine consumers are becoming more versed in the language of wine and more educated in its variations, thanks to the growing prevalence of wine tastings, classes, winemaker dinners, and casual home wine parties.

Last November, the $55 million American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts opened in California's Napa Valley.

An important part of the complex is the Wine Learning Center, offering tastings, history, and seminars for avid wine fans, professionals, and rank beginners. "ABC's of Wine" and "Mastering Merlot" are expected to be among the most popular 80-person sessions.

In most cases, with education and appreciation comes a passion for collecting - or at least a desire to store a small stash for personal consumption. But while the words "wine cellar" usually dredge up
visions of cavernous rooms housing dusty - and expensive - bottles of Bordeaux, that's not the only option. A home wine cellar can be anything from the gorgeous rack-filled rooms seen in magazines to a box of mixed vinos stored in a closet or under your bed. Start your own wine cellar with these tips.

STORING BASICS