Collecting Wine – A Beginner’s Guide

Wine, just like stamps, art and jewellery, have well documented histories, vintages, and values which in turn make them great collectables. A number of factors can influence exactly how collectible, and therefore valuable, a wine collection can be. These include; the wines provenance, storage history, vintage and brand name. To ensure maximum profit, Value My Stuff founder, Patrick van der Vorst, takes you through each of these factors and shows you how to start and develop a fine wine collection of your own.1. Look for the name.

If you’re buying wine as an investment with a view to reselling at some stage in the future, then concentrate on the big names as these will be most likely to offer you a safe return. There are many top brands on the wine market that are worth investing in at the moment, but some particular ones of note are; Romanée-Conti, Château Margaux, Château Mouton-Rothschild, Château Lafite, Cheval Blanc and Château d’Yquem.

2. How to spot a fake

There are a growing number of fakes coming on to the market, so this is something to be particularly aware of if you are a novice collector. It is best to be cautious, so don’t be afraid to ask questions or demand more details or information. You should be particularly wary of any wines that are of a famous vintage as these are more likely to be copied. You should always compare the label and capsule to those of a known genuine bottle, and look closely to ensure the label is straight and centred. You should always check the wine’s provenance and be very wary if there is any lack of, or unwillingness to provide, information on this. If you have any reason to be suspicious, or if you are simply inexperienced and are not sure what to look for, then you should seek advice from a professional before purchasing.

3. Storing your wine

You need to be extremely careful when storing your wine. Poor storage can affect the value of your wine, or in the worst case scenario ruin your wine (and therefore its value). Potential buyers will often ask you about your storage conditions and some auction houses will even be reluctant to sell any wines with an uncertain storage history.

The perfect conditions for storing wine are as follows:

– A constant temperature of between 10-14 degrees.

– A slightly damp atmosphere.

– A healthy environment with no mould.

– A dark room which is protected from light.

4. Provenance

It is crucial to the value of your investment to ensure you know the quality and provenance of the wine you are buying. This includes the wine’s origin and the confirmation that it has been stored in an appropriate environment. When purchasing a new wine it is always advised to ask the seller for this information in addition to a copy of their purchase invoices, if they have them, so you can validate this information.

5. Understanding Vintage

A wine’s vintage refers to the year in which a particular wine’s grapes were harvested. However, it is important to note that some vintages are better than others. This is because wine can be dramatically different from year to year depending on a variety of factors such as weather conditions and harvesting time. It is wise to check out the vintage charts available from the sources below which can give you a good idea of the quality of a specific vintage before purchasing a wine.

* Robert Parker through the publication The Wine Advocate, established in 1978.

* La Revue du Vin de France – A monthly French wine publication dating back to 1927.

* Gault & Millau – An Influential French guide to wines and hotels in France.

6. How to asses a wine’s condition

When both buying and selling wine there are a number of factors to look out for to ensure you are making the most out of your investment. For example, a wine that comes in its original wooden casing will be more desirable. Wines with capsules, corks and labels in perfect condition will also be more valuable. The condition of the label is particularly important. The level of the wine is also important – the wine should come up and into the bottle neck.

7. Collecting wine as an investment

Only a very small portion of the wine produced worldwide can be considered for investment. The market has shown a significant increase over the past few years, with China fuelling its expansion.

Unexpectedly, Hong Kong has become one of the most significant places for wine auctions in the world, overtaking London and New York and setting record prices on a regular basis. The abolition of wine duties in early 2008 by the city of Hong Kong was a key fact in encouraging the main auction houses to start organizing sales.

Bordeaux is the most popular choice among Chinese and Asian buyers, but Burgundy wines encounter success too. In November 2010, Christie’s sold 12 bottles of La Tâche (Domaine de la Romanée-Conti), vintage 1990 for HK$936,000 (£76,000).