The other day, one of my friends mentioned that she’d just had a great bottle of Picpoul Blanc from Paso Robles in California. My friend is not a wine connoisseur, so I found this announcement surprising. This is a woman who normally only buys the same cheap bottle of Chardonnay, yet here she is, drinking an obscure grape that originated in southern Rhone. How did she even find this wine? “It was easy,” she said. “I saw good wine reviews for it online, so I ordered it.”
Decades ago, this is the kind of wine that only diehard Californian collectors would have known about. Today, there are more vintage options available to collectors and casual drinkers than ever before. This fact is changing wine prices around the world, and could impact how we collect wine in the future. With more affordable, obscure wines on the market, it becomes essential for collectors to learn which wines are truly worth their time.
The Benefits of an Expanding Wine Market
For years now, some wine reviewers have complained that amateur bloggers are stealing their audiences; a similar dilemma is happening with wine sales themselves. The internet has made it easier than ever to search for wine reviews online, and it’s also made it easier to find rare bottles that wouldn’t normally make it into a local wine shop. There are some clear benefits to more wine on the market. To start, it makes collecting easier for everyone, including serious connoisseurs. In the past, you had to attend classes that train you in fine wine, read detailed books that cover unusual grapes, or befriend a sommelier who could point you in the direction of rare wines. If you wanted a specific wine, you had to be on the lookout for it at local auctions, or travel long distances to buy the wine at another location.
Today, you only need access to a computer in order to find the most popular “it” wines. Within a matter of minutes, you can find out what amateur reviewers and professional critics thought of a wine, and find the best price online for that bottle. Additionally, wine collecting is no longer a hobby reserved for the elite. With more wine available to consumers, and wine prices around the world becoming more affordable for any budget, almost anyone can decide to become a wine collector.
Bigger Markets Could Mean Lower Quality
Although there’s more wine available to collectors, the downside is that there is also a higher number of lower quality, cheap vintages that aren’t worth collecting. An estimated 36 billion bottles of wine are produced around the world every year, and the vast majority of those bottles (anywhere from 90 to 95 percent) won’t last longer than one year in a cellar. That means that only about 2 billion bottles of wine are worth aging longer than a year, and even fewer of these bottles have future market value.
The wine buying process has also become more complex. In the past, when brick and mortar wine shops were the only place to get fine wines, you were at the mercy of whatever your local wine shops had in stock. Often, you only had a handful of age-worthy vintages to choose from; you simply chose the highest quality vintages in the group. With more wine visible on the online market, it’s harder to decide which vintages are worth a space in your cellar. You’re spoiled for choice.
How to Find the Top-Quality Vintages
You can take advantage of the convenience of online wine shopping and selling using these techniques: vintage research, reviews, trend analysis, and expert consultants.
Before you buy any wine online, look up the weather reports for the vintage and note any serious grape growth problems. If the vintage was mediocre, consider skipping the wine entirely. Remember that there are plenty of other vintages to choose from online, and that you never have to settle for a subpar vintage. Pay especially close attention to vintage statistics like fruit yields, rain, frost, drought, and whether mildew impacted the grapes.
I use both professional wine reviews and ratings from my peers to make a choice about a new wine purchase. Generally, you should read at least five reviews on every wine, and make sure that three of those reviews come from professional critics. Although amateur reviews often contain useful information, you can’t trust that the reviewers have experience with wine. A professional reviewer has a long history with wine tastings, and often gets insider information directly from the winery.
Just because a wine is trendy doesn’t mean it’s worth your time as a collector. Take the rise of orange wines, for instance. New World orange wine producers have been all the rage among wine bloggers over the past two years, however, these wines are still more of a novelty than a long-term investment. Orange wine prices have also skyrocketed recently, making it unlikely that you’ll get money back on your investment. A collectible trend is one that involves wines that are capable of aging at least 10 years, and that go beyond novelty. The craftsmanship and quality of the wine matters more than its current popularity.
If you’re serious about your collection, consider hiring a consultant to help you find the best wines in a huge wine market. Researching wine by yourself is a time-consuming process, especially with so much wine available on the market today. The more obscure wines become available online, the more essential it will be to get an edge over other collectors. Consultants can be your edge, helping you analyze piles of market data to find the wines that could earn you a profit, as well as fit your taste and personality.
Whether you are starting your high-end wine collection or adding to an established portfolio, Vinfolio is your partner in buying, selling, and professional storage. Contact us today to get access to the world’s best wine.