Menus & Entertaining

How to choose an investment-worthy wine

By: Anne Martin, Sommelier

© Author: Canadian Living Credits: ©

Menus & Entertaining

How to choose an investment-worthy wine

By: Anne Martin, Sommelier
Geography, reputation, production methods and availability all influence a wine's value – and affect your investment. Critics’ scores also have a huge effect once the wine has been tasted. Here’s a breakdown of the key factors that drive the price up.

Investment tip #1: Region
Like real estate, wine is about location, location, location. Some wineries have history and a reputation for producing consistently excellent wines – and that ups the value over time. Areas that produce higher-value wines include:

  • Bordeaux, France
  • Burgundy (for reds and whites, too), France
  • Rhône Valley, France
  • Tuscany, Italy
  • Piedmont, Italy
  • Rioja, Spain
  • Ribera del Duero, Spain
  • Napa (reds), California
  • Sonoma (reds and cult wines), California;
  • Douro Valley, Portugal

Investment tip #2: Vintage
No two vintages are the same – Mother Nature makes sure of that. It’s important to learn which years were good to a specific area, because a good vintage means better-quality wine that’s worth the investment. Look for:

  • 2005 or 2009 wines from Bordeaux
  • 2007 wines from California
  • 2006 and 2007 wines from Tuscany

Port producers declare great vintages; recent ones were 2007, 2003 and 2000 (or look farther back for bottles from 1997, 1994, 1992 and 1991).

Investment tip #3: The producer

Great producers make great wines even in poor years. This is how they earn their well-deserved reputation. In cases of solid producers like these, there is usually more demand than supply, and this ups the price of their wines even further.

Investment tip #4: Age-ability
The longer you can keep a wine, the more attractive it becomes. A common myth is that no whites store well – but some do. Look for vintage Champagne, some whites made from the Riesling grape (particularly from Germany and Alsace), and wines made from Semillon (Bordeaux) and Chardonnay grapes (Burgundy). Red wines, particularly those made from the Cabernet Sauvignon grape, cellar beautifully. Or try other reds from Bordeaux, Burgundy and the Rhône Valley (Syrah) in France; Rioja from Spain; Brunello and Barolo from Italy; and some expensive New World reds from California and South Australia. Sweet wines, such as Sauternes, and vintage Port are another sure bet.

Page 1 of 2 -- Learn how to protect your investment plus purchasing dos and don'ts on page 2
How to protect your wine investment
The last thing you want to do is ruin your special bottles. Proper storage is key. Wine fridges, a proper wine cellar or professional storage guarantee drinkability and keep bottles in good condition for re-sale. Here are the environmental factors you can control that will keep your wine in perfect drinking order.

Temperature: Store wine in a location with consistent temperatures between 11 and 15°C (52 to 59°F). Never store wine on top of the fridge or by the furnace.

Humidity: Make sure it’s consistently above 50% but below 70% to keep the corks moist. Lay bottles with corks on their side to keep the wine in contact with the cork. Screw caps can be stored standing up.

Light: Wine reacts to light, and it likes the dark. Low-wattage lighting is OK, but no bright spotlights.

Motion: Keep wine away from vibration and try to leave it where you put it. It doesn’t like to be moved around.

Dos and Don’ts when making a wine investment
Get-rich-quick schemes never work, and the same is true in the wine world. Here are some time-tested strategies for getting the most out of your wine collection.

• Count on a quick return
• Buy any old wine just because you like it
• Buy odd bottles (unbroken cases always get the best return)

• Find a good adviser or wine agent
• Shop around whenever you can
• Pay attention to the critics and the scores
• Insure your wine collection
• Check the history and condition of wine before you buy
• Spend time doing lots of research
• Store your collection properly (see above)

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How to choose an investment-worthy wine