A collection of wine bottles on a shelf

Wine collecting can be an exciting and rewarding pastime. Whether you are a novice wine drinker looking to build a small collection or a knowledgeable wine enthusiast seeking to establish an extensive wine cellar, understanding the basics is the first step towards achieving your goals. 

In this article, we'll guide you through the basics of starting your wine collection, including clarifying your wine-collecting goals, deciding which wines to collect, and explaining how to store your wines for the short and long term.

Why Do You Want to Start a Wine Collection?

Before purchasing wines for your collection, consider what you hope to achieve. Wine collections serve different purposes, each requiring a unique approach. Let's look at a few of the reasons people collect wine. 

Personal Enjoyment

For many wine lovers, the desire to collect fine wine stems from the enjoyment of drinking it and sharing it with friends and colleagues. Having a personal collection means you'll always have access to wines that suit different occasions, meals, or moods.

Wine Education

Many start collecting wine to learn more about different types of wines and their unique characteristics. As you build your collection, you'll gain insights into various grape varieties, growing regions, cultivation processes, and how these factors affect flavor profiles.

Aging Potential

Another reason for collecting wine is an appreciation for its aging process. Some wine—although not all—becomes more complex and enjoyable as it ages. Part of the allure for wine collectors is the pleasure of anticipating its eventual maturity and experiencing the transformation firsthand.

Learn more about the wine aging process

Investment

Wine can be seen as an alternative form of investment. Rare wines may appreciate in value over time due to rising demand or a limited supply from renowned vineyards and exceptional vintages. However, caution must be exercised when investing in wine. We'll discuss the pros and cons of wine investment later in this article. 

Cost Savings

A wine collector can take advantage of the financial and convenience benefits of purchasing wine in larger quantities. Buying by the case rather than individual bottles is more cost-effective and ensures a steady wine supply.

The Best Wines for a Long-Term Wine Collection

If your goal involves building a collection of fine wines that will be regularly consumed and replenished, any high-quality wine you enjoy will do. 

But, if you're considering long-term storage or aging, you'll need to know that most wines do not improve with age. In fact, the majority are intended for consumption soon after purchase. However, complex, well-made, and therefore more expensive wines often have excellent aging potential. 

Red Wine Collecting

The longevity and complexity of red wines are due primarily to the concentration and variety of tannins. Tannin acts as a structural component, and wines with higher tannins age better than those with lower tannins. 

The decision to collect red wines should be guided by factors such as your taste preference, budget, and, most importantly, the wine's age-worthiness. Some red wines with a higher likelihood of aging well include:

Other varieties like Bordeaux blends and Tempranillo also have a reputation for improving with age.

Remember, these aging guidelines are generalizations, not iron-cast rules. They don't apply to every style, bottle, or vintage, so be sure to do your research before buying a wine for long-term storage. 

White Wine Collecting

While not traditionally famed for their aging ability compared to reds, certain white wines can age well. If stored under appropriate conditions, older wines may develop new flavors and aromas. White wines suitable for long-term aging are usually more acidic or sweet wines with higher levels of residual sugar. 

For those considering white wine, possible worthwhile candidates include oak-aged Chardonnay like many Côte d'Or white burgundies (5–7 years) or high-acidity non-oaked Chardonnay like Chablis.  Other viable options can be found in Riesling or Chenin Blanc. Each type can age over a decade, depending on the specific vintage and wine production techniques. Other whites like Sauvignon Blanc or Viognier-based wines can age well for shorter periods, but they are better consumed within five years of production.

Sparkling Wine Collecting

It's important to mention that not all sparkling wines are destined to grow old gracefully. Nonetheless, some high-end vintage Champagne can mature brilliantly over several years, developing vibrant complexity while retaining its core freshness.

Fortified Wine Collecting

For those interested in longevity, fortified wines, which have additional alcohol added, are among the longest-lived of all wines. Their high residual sugar level further contributes to their aging potential and durability. Types like Port wine and Sherry can age gracefully for many decades. 

How to Store Your Wine Collection

The best way to store collectible wines—and therefore the cost of your wine storage solution—depends on what you intend to do with your wine collection. If you plan to store and age wine over the long term, you'll need to invest more than if you intend to regularly drink and replenish your collection. 

Drink and Replenish

Assuming your wine collection is meant for regular consumption and replenishment over short periods, there's no need for complicated storage—a decent wine fridge or even a cool closet will do. However, a few basic guidelines should be adhered to ensure your wine remains in good condition until it's time to drink it.

Store your wine at a consistent, cool temperature, away from direct sunlight and artificial light. Rest the wine bottles on their side to keep the cork moist.

Long-term Wine Collecting

Long-term collecting requires more care because storage conditions affect the maturation process and can ruin your investment if not properly managed.

Key considerations include: 

  • Maintaining an ideal temperature around 55°F (13°C) with minimal fluctuation
  • Ensuring optimal humidity between 60% and 80% to keep corks from drying out
  • Limiting exposure to light, which can degrade the wine
  • Minimizing disturbances that could stir sediment

Consider investing in a wine cellar or professionally designed wine storage solution to keep your age-worthy wines in the best possible condition. 

Wine as an Investment

Investing in valuable wines offers several distinctive benefits, not the least of which is the pleasure it brings to enthusiasts. However, it also comes with challenges. Investors should consider their risk tolerance and understanding of the wine market before proceeding.

The Benefits of Investing in Wine

Unlike abstract assets like stocks or digital currencies, wine is tangible. You can hold a bottle of wine in your hand, store it, and even consume it if you choose to. Its tangibility lends stability and real value, and tangible assets can hedge against stock market volatility and inflation.

Investing in wine provides an alternative to traditional investment portfolios. Wine as an asset class can serve as a diversification strategy, reducing the financial risk from dependence on a single or limited set of investments.

The Risks of Investing in Wine

Despite the advantages, investing in wine also has challenges and risks. The first step towards effective wine investment risk management is understanding these potential pitfalls.

  • Spoilage: Proper storage and handling are vital to maintain wine's value. Inadequate storage conditions cause wines to spoil or degrade, causing a significant loss in their investment value.
  • Market Volatility: Like any other commodity, wines are susceptible to market fluctuations. Economic changes and shifts in consumer tastes can impact the value of your investment wines.
  • Low Liquidity: Investing in wines requires a medium-to-long-term commitment, as wine does not offer quick liquidity when immediate funds are necessary. It takes time for investment-grade wines to appreciate, so you'll need to be a patient investor.
  • Authenticity and Condition Verification: Confirming a wine's authenticity and perfect condition can be challenging, particularly for less experienced collectors. 
  • Expertise: Investing in wine requires a wealth of knowledge about grape varieties, winemaking processes, wine regions, and vintages. If you don't have a deep knowledge of the market, you may overpay for wines, be taken advantage of by fraudsters, or invest in wines with little upside potential.

Build Your Wine Collection with Wine Deals

Wine Deals stocks an unbeatable variety of wine at great prices. Whether you're looking to fill a wine fridge or embark on a decades-long investment in the finest wines, you'll find everything you're looking for at Wine Deals—even better, we'll deliver most wines right to your door.