It is not uncommon to hear of wine being sold for thousands or even hundreds of thousands. In 2011, a bottle of 1947 Cheval Blanc was bought for an astounding $304,000. It is believed to be the most expensive bottle ever sold.
The average wine drinker and collector is not concerned with profit or antique additions to a collection. Most are simply looking to add value and quality to their collections, whether large or small.
Before starting a collection, it is crucial to remember that most wines are not intended to age. As much as 95 percent of the wine produced is intended to be consumed within 2 to 5 years after bottling. The 5 percent or so of wines that do age well are produced in very limited quantities. For example, if you consider that only 450 cases of Burgundy’s Romanee-Conti are produced each year, and there are millions of wine drinkers spanning the globe, you are faced with minuscule amounts available.
The first step to a fulfilling collection is to find a local wine retailer who understands your intentions. This is crucial so that you are kept informed of premier wines entering the market and when they become available.
What type of collection do you want to create? A good place to start is with a few bottles from your favorite regions and of your favorite styles. Buy two or more of the wines you plan to collect. (I recommend six bottles to a case.) When you are ready to explore the wine, drink one, take notes and then open another in a few years and see the changes. Buying more than one bottle is very important because the joy of collecting is noting how the wines change over time.
All wines are different and will change — for better or worse. The only control you have over this process is how you store your bottles. The most important things to remember are no direct light, low humidity, constant low temperature, bottles on their sides and minimal movement. You needn’t invest in a wine cellar or wine fridge to maintain these conditions, although they are helpful. These conditions can be achieved in a dark corner of a closet floor.
Therefore, seller input is vital for new collectors.