Investment Wines

How do you start a wine collection? I am often asked this question and the simply reply is to buy more than you intend to drink. There that was easy but before I add the caveats let me take a look at the original question and ask one of my own. Why do you want to collect wine? If, like stamps, you only want to see them preserved and collect for the sake of collecting your sources can be various and inexpensive because you never intend to drink any of them.
Few, if any, fall into this category so you need to choose wines that will keep and hopefully improve. Generally the wines in supermarkets are designed for early drinking and have a maximum life of five years. By the way don’t be fooled into thinking that geography makes any difference so a Tesco in Stafford or a hypermarket in Calais both sell the same type of thing. You will need to befriend a good wine merchant. Look around carefully because selecting the correct wine advisor is hopefully a lifetimes’ commitment far more important than just marriage. This is the person to help and guide your wine choices and predict the evolution of infant wines over maybe twenty or thirty years.
Where will you store your wine? Avoid temperature fluctuation, vibration, heat, light and excessive damp. Ideally a nice dry cellar would be perfect but nowadays so rare. If you have an unheated room or adjoining garage on the north side of the house, you have the closest thing to a cellar already. Just beware of very hot summers or freezing winters.
There are professional storage areas around and your wine advisor can help here, I use Octavian in Wiltshire. This is an ex mine and wartime munitions dump far underground where my wines are preserved in perfect condition. The typical cost for this is around ten pounds per case per year so it needs to be pretty valuable in the first place to justify the expense. The reason I use this establishment is that I collect wine with a view to sell at a profit in years to come. If you want to follow suit you will need to buy wine under bond by the case and choose younger wines from good vintages that have the capacity and expectancy to improve. As a rule Bordeaux red from top classified growths are the best avenue but unfortunately they are never cheap, even when first released. A single case may fetch between one and three thousand pounds depending on the chateau and year.
Over a decade you should expect an increase of about four hundred percent if you bought wisely, so this covers all your expenses.
I also collect old wines as can be seen on my website; and from these I can select some great drinking. Several vintages from the same chateau form a terrific basis for a tasting party, called a vertical tasting. It never fails to amaze me how disparate a wine can be over different years due almost entirely to weather. If you want to try this you need to choose one or two chateaux and buy those wines in earlier years but choose mostly the good vintages. Don’t shy away from poor years too much as the poorer years have less tannin and do not keep as well but often can show subtle elegance that may be hidden in better (more tannic) years. The most important thing is that you enjoy your wine as I do especially when I open a fantastic wine I once paid a pittance for.