I like to think of my almost daily wine consumption as terribly Continental. You know, a carafe of Bordeaux enjoyed with a Seine-side meal, a nice Chianti sipped under the Tuscan sun. What my quotidian quaffing really means, though, is that I'm a by-the-book American imbiber: Experts say most of the wine bought in this country is consumed within 24 hours of its purchase (and Mad Dog 20/20 even sooner).
When I'm lucky enough to get a cache of the good stuff, I carefully lay it down in the cellar to await a special occasion. However, I've long sought a comely storage system for my everyday bottles, which, it goes without saying, need to remain a bit closer at hand. The answer: This wine-rack project, which transforms a pretty birch log into a simple holder, ready to be denuded of its branches.
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Assemble your materials. If you're not lucky enough to have a six-inch-wide, two-foot-long birch log with one straight-cut end lying around, you can get a similarly dimensioned piece of wood cut for you at a lumber yard. You'll also need a piece of plywood roughly 14 by 9 inches for the base (pre-paint it your favorite color the night before); a drill; three 2 1/2-inch-long drywall screws; and a 1 3/8-inch spade bit.
Begin by laying your log on its side and carefully bracing it with a vise. Then load your spade bit into the drill. Taking about a 30-degree angle, drill down toward the flat end of the log, going in about 2 1/2 inches. Repeat eight times around the circumference of the log at different levels, placing holes at roughly a four-inch distance from each other.
Turn your log over, flat side up, and center the base on top of it. Then, using a 1/8-inch bit, drill three pilot holes in a triangular formation, each about two inches from the other, through the base and into the log. Grab three drywall screws and drive 'em home.
Flip your project over so that the log stands proudly. Collect your bottles of everyday chardonnay, pinot noir and Burgundy and tuck their necks into the holes. The bottles' corks will remain well hydrated in this position, and your wine will always be at the ready when you have a hankering to pull a cork. Laura J. Vogel
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