Are you thinking about building a collection of great wines? Jim Cash, long-time collector and founder of Revel Custom Wine Cellars, shares some tips on the art of wine collecting:
- Measure Twice, Cut Once: This mantra of carpenters and surgeons applies and means: plan ahead. Wines that actually improve with age and in value are far and few between–and expensive.
- Invest Your Time: Acquiring knowledge and a palate will take time and energy. The world of fine wine is very complicated. You need to develop a healthy appreciation to be amply rewarded.
- Know Your Means: Many wine writers and pundits believe that wine collecting can be a relatively easy and inexpensive undertaking. In the world of fine and collectible wine, this notion is simply not true. Collectible wines are costly to acquire and own.
- You Need to Drink It: Consuming and sharing wine with friends is the best way to appreciate it. When building a collection, be sure to account for this point.
- Critic’s Scores Matter: They may not matter to you in terms of predicting whether you will like the wine, but they do represent one component of a wine’s resume.
- Provenance Is Key: A documented record from creation to present is desirable. The more expensive the price, the more important is this step. There are forgeries, gray market wines and wines that have been improperly stored being offered for sale. Know your sources.
- Travel to the Vineyards: Not only great fun, but this is the best way to gain certain fundamental insights into the soul of the wine. Wine is a living organism, and so much goes into its creation that being there and experiencing the place is essential to fostering your understanding. Learning about the people that make it, the production processes and the winemaking philosophies will fortify your knowledge base.
- Don’t Expect to Make a Profit: Although it may be true that certain wines increase in value over time, that time horizon is long. There are many other factors to consider. Wine is “illiquid” in the financial sense, and selling wine is a transaction with a lot of friction. Still, having a wine collection can save money when drinking mature wines, and it can also be a viable diversification strategy and inflation hedge.
- You Need the Right Place to Keep It: While seemingly obvious, this point is often underestimated. Collectible wines need to be kept in a very specific environment. Whether you use commercial storage or build a proper cellar–this proposition is generally a costly one.
- Live the Life: Enjoy it for everything it has to offer, and you will be richly rewarded. To truly know wine is to know society, culture, history, cuisine, geography, science, language, the environment and more. It makes one a more interesting person and contributes to a life well lived.
An investor and collector of fine wines for the past 30 years, Jim recently began work on his first book exploring the dynamics involved in collecting fine wine from a variety of perspectives. In 2009, he founded Revel Custom Wine Cellars (www.revelcellars.com), based on his revolutionary design ideas for wine storage cabinetry.