Investing in high-end wines will give your portfolio an edge. Here’s what you need to know about where and what to buy.
If you’ve been collecting fine wine for any period of time, you know that choosing the perfect wines to add to your portfolio isn’t the hard part of collecting—it’s figuring out the right time to open (or sell) those wines.
Cult wines are among the most popular and expensive bottles in the world, making them tempting investments for every type of collector. I’ve known collectors who have made tens of thousands of dollars by selling their cult wine collections on the secondary market. Whether you buy wine for investment purposes or to enjoy it yourself, seeking out cult wines can be worthwhile if you’ve done your research. The challenge is that these wines are exceptionally rare and valuable, often making it difficult to obtain the best vintages or get the best value for the quality. This guide can help you navigate some of these challenges and build a fantastic collection of the right cult wines for you.
What factors affect wine quality the most? While grape quality and climate play a significant role, post-harvest winemaking techniques such as maceration, fermentation, extraction, and aging also influence wine flavors immensely. Last year I attended a special tasting dinner hosted by the owner of a winery in Red Mountain, Washington. Over dinner, we sampled a number of recent vintages from the estate, and the lead winemaker offered us in-depth insight into the winemaking techniques he uses to bring out the best flavors in the wine.
When I started collecting wine more than a decade ago, I had to wait for my favorite monthly magazines to arrive in the mail to learn about the latest vintages and trends in wine. Today, I get much of my industry news from podcasts, which are available instantaneously. The best wine podcasts offer expert, in-depth reviews of incredible wines as well as educational resources and interviews with wine professionals that aren’t available anywhere else.
A wine’s mineral flavors come from more than just rocky terrain and ancient seashells; in order to understand why a wine tastes like wet stones or chalk, you need to know how soil affects wine–and how it doesn’t affect it.
The wine world is expanding at a rapid pace. Just 50 years ago, most serious collectors only invested in wines from a handful of areas. In general, if the wine didn’t come from Old-World regions like Burgundy, Bordeaux, or Champagne, many collectors didn’t see much value in buying it. But this attitude is changing, and we’re seeing New World wine regions like Chile gain popularity among serious collectors and casual drinkers alike. In fact, Liv-ex lists Chilean wine as one of the top regions to follow in its latest 2017 Power 100 Report. The region’s top wines, especially offerings from Seña and Almaviva, are being sold on the secondary market in greater numbers this year, and these wines are expected to grow in value significantly over the next decade.
I have dozens of books about wine sitting on my bookshelf, but admittedly, only a handful of them are still relevant today. Most of the books include outdated advice about which wines are trendy, and each author offers slightly different tips on the best wines to buy. The authors of these books make authoritarian claims like, “Merlot is too cheaply made to be worth cellaring,” or “Don’t try to pair wine with brussels sprouts.” But, as wine expert Jon Bonné points out in his book The New Wine Rules, published last November, these declarative statements don’t always stand the test of time, and often, they’re downright false.
Although sommeliers are well-versed in nearly every wine style imaginable, some still struggle with one wine in particular: German Riesling. They might be able to talk for hours about the origins of the obscure Négrette grape of southwest France and easily pronounce words like “Pouilly-Fuissé,” but there’s something about reading German wine labels that sends shivers down their spines. It’s easy to see why; knowing how to read a German wine label means not only understanding the basic mechanics of the German language, but also the complicated rules of their wine rating system. While most countries keep their labels simple, Germany packs as much information onto the front of the wine as possible–you often have to read through at least five, sometimes ten, different words at the top of the label just to get to the producer’s name.
Some wine enthusiasts believe that sommelier certification takes years to complete, and that it’s only useful for those who want a career in the wine industry. This isn’t necessarily true. Dedicated students can become a sommelier in as little as 24 weeks through the American Sommelier Association. Moreover, sommelier status opens new doors for you that you might never have considered before. When Vinfolio’s Tamara Forward went through the process in 2014, she not only received a top-notch wine education (which made it easier to shop for and enjoy wine in her spare time), she also made meaningful connections to her fellow students, and was able to use her education to move her wine career forward. Even if you aren’t looking for a career in wine, you can gain a great deal of experience and improve your wine collection by becoming certified. If you’re wondering how to become a sommelier, here’s how to go about it, what to expect, and how it can help you as a collector.
MENTIONED IN THIS POST: -Clos des Papes -Clos St. Jean -Dalla Valle -2012 Beaucastel -2002 Dominus -2001 Haut-Brion Blanc The Washington Post’s Kristen Hartke was a self-proclaimed “wine consumer, not a connoisseur.” She didn’t have an in-depth knowledge of the winemaking process–she didn’t even know which grapes make up the perfect bottle of Chateauneuf du…
Have you ever wanted a career in the wine industry? This lofty-sounding goal is more attainable than you might think. Take winemaker Michael Dashe. More than a decade ago, he was an abalone diver who had only a passing interest in wine. One day, winemaker Bob Roudon asked if he could trade some wine for…