Like many high-end collectibles, prices can seem outrageous to outsiders and a sub-economy of the super-rare can take center stage. In 2011, 2 bottles of champagne salvaged from a 170 year old shipwreck were auctioned for $78,400 each, and were reportedly still drinkable due to storage on their sides, in darkness, and under pressure (at the bottom of the sea). These bottles went for a high price because they were rare, but it was also their stories and documentation that really pushed them into the stratosphere.
1.Debunk the myths
Some myths to debunk about fine wine collecting:
√ Wine collecting is just for the super wealthy – it isn’t. It can also be flexibly adopted as a lifestyle, or merely a hobby, depending on how much time you wish to invest.
√ You don’t need a large underground cellar.
√ You don’t need to part with a large up-front investment.
2.Set a budget
Wine collecting is driven by passion and excitement and can quickly get out of hand. So, to avoid finding yourself hunting for those great wines and forgetting the impact on your wallet, decide how much of your money to spend and stick to it. Start by thinking about your drinking patterns. For example, you may like one glass of wine during a meal. At four glasses per bottle, you will need about two bottles a week, or a case per month. It’s also a good idea to factor friends and family along with holidays and any special events. Then ask yourself if you can afford this strategy.
3.Determine which wine is age-able
Wine without much “personality” (i.e. lacking a strong structure and with no character to its taste) won’t benefit at all from ageing. In fact, aging the wrong bottle is a bit like watering down a good bottle of wine with water.
√ Good, age-able wines are tannic, acidic, well-structured, and complex.
√ Tannins, the natural preservatives that come from the grape’s skin, will soften as time passes. It will round up the wine, bringing out its best bouquet and balance.
4.Plan out your collection
The ideal wine collection should comprise a cross section of wines, some for long-aging and some for ready drinking. But how can you successfully collect and balance the two? For starters, you’ve already determined how much wine you are looking to consume over the coming year, and how much money you can and are willing to spend. Among lovers of fine wine, it isn’t unusual for drinkers to develop three-season palates. In the summer, we go for light-bodied, refreshing wines and, in the winter, for more full-bodied reds. So, why not buy your wine to match the seasons? You could try about eight cases of light-bodied bottles for the summer and 10 cases of full-bodied wines for the winter, and the rest somewhere between the two?
5.Storing your wine.
Wine, like any perishable food item, is sensitive to its surroundings. While the alcohol in wine acts as a preservative, heat and air are its natural enemies. The quality of your wine’s storage will affect its value.
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6.Guidelines for storing your wine
Wine–especially old wine–needs to be very delicately handled here are some tips:
√ Keep it in a cool place with a constant temperature. Ideally, it should be stored between 5°C to 22°C with minimal fluctuation. The warmer the temperature, the faster your wine will age. Temperature fluctuations can result in “ullage” meaning wine is lost as the liquid expands and contracts in the varying temperatures.
√ Moderate humidity: 50-80% humidity. The cork in the bottle requires this to maintain its seal and stay moist. Keep your bottles on their side, and avoid having them inverted.
√ No vibration: vibrations will break up the alcohol and acid chemical bonds, or “Esters” which give aged wines their “bottle bouquet.”
√ No light: wine is badly affected by UV rays (this is primarily why wine bottles are colored either green or brown, for minor protection). Therefore, store your wine in darkness.
7.Know when to drink or sell your collection.
Wine’s value drops after its ideal maturity, which differs for each grape and is affected by the wine’s region or vintage.
√ A premium Bordeaux, for instance, may take 15 years to peak (or “open up”), whereas a premium Burgundy (based on thin-skinned Pinot Noir grapes) can peak in eight years.
√ You can find out the recommended aging period from various online resources such as Wine Spectators and Robert Parker.
√ If you plan to sell your wine, you will get the best price one-to-three years before the recommended serving time.