Whenever I see an amazing deal on wine, I’m tempted to invest in it, even if the wine itself doesn’t excite me very much. Last year, I spent about $350 on two cases of wine that wasn’t collectible because I thought I was getting them for a steal; almost 12 months later, a few of those bottles are still gathering dust. The wines weren’t that spectacular, and looking back, I wish I would have spent that $350 on fewer bottles of higher quality wine instead. If you still haven’t picked out a New Year’s resolution yet, why not commit yourself to buying fewer bottles of better wine this year? Even if you’re a seasoned professional who routinely drops $1,000 on a single bottle, making this New Year’s wine resolution can still improve your collection and help you stay organized this year by keeping you focused on what counts: quality.
Why You Should Cut Back–And Up Your Game
I always recommend that collectors diversify their wine cellars, but it’s easy to go overboard with this advice. For instance, if you want to try more Australian Shiraz, you might buy five different cases of it in an attempt to expand your horizons. The problem is that if you lose interest in Shiraz, you’re left with too many bottles and limited space to store them. When you later come across a fantastic deal on a case of delicate Sea Smoke Pinot Noir, you might not have enough room to store your new purchase because you still have dozens of Shiraz bottles to get through.
Rather than buying as much wine as you can afford, it’s better to save and splurge. With this New Year’s wine resolution, you’re spending the same amount of money as you always do on wine, but you’re getting higher caliber wines in the process, and ones that will likely last longer and resell more easily. It’s better to buy one case of Penfolds Grange for $6,000 than to buy 16 cases of a lower-quality wine that isn’t valuable on the market and that you’ll soon tire of drinking.
As an added benefit, you get the opportunity to try wines of a quality that you may never have thought you would get a chance to try. I once knew a collector who splurged on a single case of fine Bordeaux every year, and spent the rest of his money on gallons of $10 table wine. He had never tried a high-end New World producer because he claimed he didn’t have enough money left over in his budget to justify it. However, all he had to do was save that table wine money and spend it on a New World case instead.
How to Get Started with Your New Year’s Wine Resolution
To get started, you’ll need to determine how much money you spend on wine annually, biannually, quarterly, monthly, or weekly. The number you use depends on your buying habits. For instance, if you’re the type of collector who only buys collectible wine once a year at auction, you’ll want to focus on how much you spend annually. Similarly, if you primarily invest in wine only during spring and fall, when allocations arrive, then you’ll want to focus on biannual spending. Quarterly spending is an ideal statistic for collectors who love seasonal wines. Monthly and weekly statistics are most important for collectors who constantly shop for wine, or for casual wine enthusiasts who rarely make large purchases in one sitting.
You can also combine two statistics together for a fuller picture. Let’s say you usually buy most of your collectible, age-worthy wine during allocation season in the spring and the fall, but you also buy drinkable table wine at least once a month. Find out how much you spend (on average) biannually for allocations, and then estimate how much you spend every six months on drinkable bottles. You can add these two numbers together for a total wine budget, or keep them separate.
Sticking to Your Goal
Once you have one or two average budgets, find out how many bottles of wine you bought last year, and see if you can cut the number in half this year. Did you buy 20 cases for around $10,000 total last year? If so, try spending the same amount of money on 10 cases of higher quality wine instead. Even if you only bought a small number of bottles last year (like 12), you can commit to buying half the wine for double the price this year. A casual wine drinker might commit to buying half a dozen $40 bottles of wine, rather than a dozen $20 bottles. A serious collector could choose to splurge on a rare bottle of Sine Qua Non instead of buying the same case of Bordeaux every year. As long as you track your purchases and focus on truly excellent wines in 2017, your New Year’s wine resolution will be a resounding success.
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