How to Start a Wine Collection
Have you ever thought about collecting wines?
Building a Wine Collection
Wine collecting can be a fun hobby and maybe even a lucrative investment over time. There are many reasons why a person would decide to start collecting bottles. Whether it's for the hunt, monetary aspirations, or simply the love of wine. But be careful. There is a fine line between collecting and hoarding. Would you consider two million bottles of wine a healthy hobby? Check out the largest wine collection.
Either way, make sure you're going into this collecting process with a goal in mind, setting guidelines and parameters for what your collection will look like. Scarcity, production, and price are all factors to keep in mind.
Five Quick Tips:
Know your budget.
Set attainable goals off the bat.
Follow wine trends.
Invest in an inventory management tool.
Think of your wine collection as your investment portfolio. Diversify your holdings to maximize potential growth.
Wine is an investment, not only in money but in time. And with returns that tend to outpace the stock market, it's no coincidence that it's become a popular hobby. When getting started on your own wine collection, think of it as a portfolio of investments that you want to diversify and distribute evenly across many regions, varietals, and brands. By spreading it out, you'll limit the risk and improve your chances of increasing its value over time.
My recommendation is to include some "safe" bottles as well as a few promising, "high-growth" bottles with the chance to skyrocket in price. You don't want to put too much in one asset (bottle) in case a price drops and your collection comes crashing down. Never buy too much of one type or style.
To limit the potential doom of price drops, make sure you're being budget conscious. Go into your wine portfolio with a finite number that you'd like to spend every year and spread that out over time on bottles and cases. Many sources recommend 3-6 bottles of a particular vintage so that you can taste the evolution of the bottle over the course of its maturity.
Begin building a portfolio of wines with attainable goals. Seek out a few regional bottles online or at your local shop. Attend wine tastings at local liquor stores, and make sure to ask for recommendations on purchase trends. That will give you a good sense of what's popular at that given time.
Everything is good in moderation, but obsessions can have its consequences. Find what's undervalued underproduced and jump on it. If you want an instant wine collection without doing the research and hunt, Benchmark Wine Group has an Accellarator program that instantly gives you a collection of fine wines. But you'll need a few thousand dollars to spend and it's not as fun as building your own.
Wines to Collect
Once you have a budget in place, it's all about the hunt. There is no right way to go about this step. Some might find that online wine auctions are the best, or following wine indices like stock charts. Acker Wines has a weekly web auction and a great resource for fine and rare wines you can search and see price trends over time. Even if auctions aren't your foray, it's a great pulse on what is popular and trending upwards.
For me, I like keeping a running list of wines I am seeking in a database. I collect wines that are personal to me, that I enjoy drinking, and from regions I've visited over the course of my life. Either way, make sure you're collecting wines that age gracefully and not types of wines that are made to drink soon after purchasing.
Generally, you're seeking vintage years when grapes had great seasons. Don't seek off years where grapes struggled, although many great vineyards can make fantastic wines out of their yields anyway. Starting off with great vintage years and popular styles will give you a sense of the ebbs and flows of the market. Then you can start going with less-traditional regions like Argentina, Germany, Australia, or Spain.
Remember that a valuable bottle of wine for your collection doesn't have to be an ancient artifact, covered in dust and soot. Great vintage years are behind us and also in our future. Which brings us to our next topic, "wine futures."
Scarcity is a main contributing factor to price fluctuations. One interesting way to purchase wines is through a "wine futures" experience. You pay an upfront fee before the official release of the vintage with the hope it'll appreciate in time. But this can backfire since you're buying it a year in advance. Common en primeur wines are Bordeaux, Burgundy, the Rhône Valley, and Port.
There is a collectors' market that has seen wine bottles sell for over $500k. We've even launched an NFT in collaboration with Skipstone Winery on OpenSea. One of the newest entries into the collectible world are Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs). NFTs are a super simple way to get into the wine-collecting business by purchasing a digital asset, or acquiring an additional level of provenance or protection for your bottle.
Wine Cellar Inventory Management Tools
Once you've bought a few wines for your collection, you're going to need to keep a detailed list of what you have, are seeking, and what's ready to be consumed. I have a method of attaching tags to every bottle of wine in my collection that informs me of the ideal drink-by dates.
If you need help building a great wine cellar, click here.
Like anything, word of mouth is the key to a collector's collection going up. The demand rises and other people want to buy your bottle. So, knowing the communities online that discuss, swap, and trade wine bottles is an important step in understanding the wine market.
No collection is complete without reaping the benefits of what you've sowed. Finding that ideal time in each bottle's lifecycle to share in an experience with friends. Vintage charts give a great blueprint of when the ideal time is to pop that cork. Just make sure that the cork isn't dried out, or storing environments haven't been compromised. Hang a tag around your bottles for a premier date to drink. It's like a countdown to deliciousness.
Research the origins, provenance, and retailer/seller. If you still have your doubts, trust your gut. There will be another bottle right around the corner!