Drink - Victoria Moore suggests marriage is the way to a well-stocked wine cellar

If you can't afford a well-stocked wine cellar, it could be time to get married

How to afford to stock our cellar so we can drink in style is a question that vexes, well, some of us. One possibility is to get married. Sounds a bit drastic? Not when you consider the benefits. Placing your wedding list with a wine merchant will set you up with the foundations for a lifetime of good drinking. As Patrick Sandeman of Lea & Sandeman says: "It's certainly more fun than ramekins and towels."

The ideal list would consist of wines that will mature at different stages, so it is important to find merchants who can advise not only on what to buy, but also on how long it will keep. Find out how flexible they can be about quantities: it's normal to buy by the case, but unless your guests are all loaded you will need to include plenty of individual bottles, too. The alternative is to choose lower-priced wine - but remember, this is your chance to get quality, so go mad. Storage is another thing to ask about: most merchants will not store mixed cases.

Here's a selection of merchants offering bespoke wine wedding lists, and their tips. Justerini & Brooks (020 7484 6400) says: "Burgundy and Bordeaux are always very popular, for obvious reasons. Chateau Calon-Segur, a troisieme cru from St Estephe, is a good, solid mid-range choice. We'd also recommend the 2000 port, which will keep a long time." Lea and Sandeman (020 7244 0522) offers wedding-list customers the discounted case price on both mixed and full cases. "For a few bottles of something a bit different, Italy is the place to go. Super Tuscans such as Lupica and Paleo Rosso will keep around ten years if it's a good vintage." John Armit (020 7908 0600) allows guests to make non-wine-specific financial donations that can be put towards more expensive cases. The firm also recommends Chateau Calon-Segur. "Sauternes would be worthwhile, as it's very special and keeps ten to 20 years." Lay & Wheeler (0845 330 1855) says: "We like to chat to the bride and groom to get a feel for their tastes before making recommendations." Berry Bros & Rudd (www.bbr.com) offers an online service allowing guests to log into and select from a list including tastings, courses and dinners, as well as actual bottles. "Italy is very underrated and jaded palates will find a lot of wines to interest them there. From the north-west try Nebbiolo d'Alba 2000, Paitin at £12.95 a bottle (drinking in two or three years) or Barbaresco Cru Rabaja 1998, Giuseppe Cortese (drinking in five years). If you want to go crazy, buy some Solaia Marchesi 1997, Piero Antinori from Tuscany. It may be £295 a bottle, but it is the most extraordinary wine."

I got married recently, but I didn't have a wine wedding list. Now I've heard about it, I think it may be time for a divorce. Do people give you presents the second time around?

This article first appeared in the 16 February 2004 issue of the New Statesman, The new serfs