09 Mar A guide to becoming a wine collector
So, you want to collect wine? Like accumulating anything from rare stamps to luxury cars, it’s not as simple as going out there and buying everything you can afford – though it certainly may look that way for some. Many stumble across wine collecting as a hobby when they begin buying what they like by the case, and eventually need to consider better storage solutions; others take it as a serious investment. Since wine is, after all, meant for drinking, wine collecting comes with its own unique set of rules. If you have decided that it’s time to get serious about wine, here’s what you need to know.
Experience wine for yourself
It’s a rare wine collector that doesn’t drink wine at all, but it’s surprising how many people collect wine for the cachet, the investment or simply to be on trend, without ever sampling their wares. Unfortunately for them, wine collecting is like writing in that in order to write well, one must read everything, and regularly. Smart collectors buy wine and also taste that wine to make sure it meets with their approval, rather than blindly following online reviews. Attend wine tastings at every opportunity and research wines; many schools offer wine tasting courses to help oenophiles develop a better palate.
Of course, reputable wine websites abound, and most wine critics are trustworthy, but they simply may not share the same tastes as you do. More rare are the fraudulent situations, yet if you have seen the cringe-worthy American Greed episode on Rudy Kurniawan, you know that counterfeits do exist. If the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is (we’ll discuss the merits of buying wine online vs. at auction or bricks and mortar shop, in an upcoming post).
How to form a collection
Besides buying what you like, experts recommend looking beyond the price to what it will potentially be worth. That way, your collection will be worth something to more than just yourself. Some buying tips include:
- Go past your comfort zone. Spend a little more than you would normally want to, if the wine will likely be a good investment.
- Take your time. There is no rush; building a collection takes time. For every bottle of wine you plan to consume right away, buy another bottle for your collection.
- Don’t worry about trying to find rare, pricey Bordeaux or Cabernets; look for reds from Italy, New Zealand, and the Burgundy region. There are plenty of good finds in the $50-$100 per bottle range.
- Vintage Champagnes usually start at $100 per bottle but are well worth it.
- Try to buy a full case in original wood and don’t break it open if you wish to maintain the full value for resale.
- Professional storage is essential for the serious wine collector, as is insurance for your wine cellar. Avoid holding and cellaring fees by building your own beautiful home wine cellar, which has an added bonus: it’s a great way to make friends and impress guests.
The next few years promise to be favourable for the burgeoning wine collector in that wine is expected to flatten out as an investment, after the frenetic activity of the wine auction boom several years ago. This is great news for bargain hunters looking for reasonably priced bottles that are a good investment – and will be even more special to share with family and friends – a few years down the road.