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Fine Wine, Pt 2: Storage: Check. Now to Grow That Collection

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May 6, 2016
Fine wine: How to grow your investment collection

Had a good day trading and want to celebrate? Or looking to add more “liquid” assets to your portfolio? There are different fine wines to do that.

In Part 1 of this series, we looked at some different options for storing wine. Now, we’ll talk about how to build a wine collection.

When throwing a party, or just keeping an extra bottle around the house for guests, it’s worth having both red and white wine on hand.

Owen Worley, who’s worked at several top Chicago restaurants including as bar director at TETE Charcuterie and co-head bartender at The Drawing Room, said if you want to select good everyday or party wines, become friendly with the staff at a good wine shop. Once they get a sense of the style of wine you like and your budget, they can steer you in the right direction.

For those who want to do their own research and experiment, Worley said European wines can offer some surprising bargains over New World wines from areas like Australia, New Zealand, and Argentina.

“You get what you pay for in New World wines, whereas you can find some bargains from southern Europe,” he said.

Worley’s pick for a people-pleasing red wine is a Côtes du Rhône, a region in France. “They’re fairly full-bodied and high acid. They go great with food, but tend not to dominate.”

Spanish Garnacha is a bit more powerful, and good for those who like Californian or Australian-style wines, he added.

For people willing to experiment, two white styles he recommended are Albariño, a dry white from Galicia in northwest Spain, and Assyrtiko from Greece, which can be dry or sweet.

“They have soft, pretty styles. They’re great summer wines and go great with food. They’re great bargains,” he said.

Investment-Grade Wines

Seeking investment wines? Scott Hinden, a Chicago-based restaurant general manager and wine buyer who also has a personal wine collection, said a lot of wine investors are starting to look at U.S. wines because Chinese demand for top French wines has made those bottles pricey.

He recommends studying wineries that get high scores from critics at publications like Wine Enthusiast or Wine Spectator. When wine critics bestow top scores on certain bottles, their value can rise quickly—although they can sell out just as fast.

“Read the scores as they come out each month and you can start to see a pattern. It’s almost like analyzing the stock market,” Hinden said.

Serious wine investors should keep the $40 to $65 a bottle price tag in mind.

“I can almost guarantee you it will be a delicious bottle of wine, especially domestically,” he said, adding that many bottles in that range will fare just as well as wines double that amount.

These wines should be properly stored—that means in temperature-controlled storage outside the home.

Hinden recommends investors taste a wide variety of wines before deciding what they want to collect.

“So many people stick to one producer, one varietal, one area of the world. That’s like saying ‘I’m only going to eat hot dogs,’” Hinden said.

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