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How to invest in fine wine: expert advice on what you need to know


One rare bottle of 1874 Perrier-Jouët Champagne was expected to fetch £15,000 but sold for £42,875, but Lot 544, 11 bottles of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Romanée-Conti 1971, with a higher estimate of 180,000 Sterling pounds sold for 269,500 pounds.

Those that achieved just two of the selling prices at Christie’s Finest and Rarest Wines and Spirits auction in London earlier this month sold for £7.6m.

Nearly two years of pandemic and shutdowns seem to have increased investor demand for fine wines.

With these mind-boggling prices, you’d be forgiven for thinking that investing in wine isn’t affordable for ordinary people, but that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case.

Cult Wines has launched a new wine investing platform where you can invest in wine from £10k but invest for much less with wine merchant’s cellar plans

However, wine merchants and online platforms have allowed people to invest in wine from a few hundred pounds.

It is not for the faint of heart although alternative investing like this does not provide any regulation of the Financial Conduct Authority or protection of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

The wine world, as with art and classic cars, is also one of the places where it’s easy to cheat or get too close.

So investors should make sure they’re dealing with reputable companies, stay smart about them, and realize that investments can go down as well as up — and that it’s hard to sell quickly.

How much do you need to invest?

The entry level on wine investing varies and depends on who you talk to.

Jack Chapman, head of private clients at Lea & Sandeman in London, says it’s possible to invest in wine a small amount but notes that storage costs must be offset against the investment.

Tom Gearing, President of Cult Wines, says it's important to invest in wine for the long haul

It’s important to invest in wine for the long-term . Tom Grange, president of Cult Wines, says

“There is no minimum and it depends on who you are close to,” he says. There are some good wine asset management companies that require a certain limit.

But you will pay for storage. Therefore, my advice is to buy more value bags to reduce storage costs as much as possible.

Merchants such as Berry Bros & Rudd and Corney & Barrow offer cellar plans that enable people to begin investing in wine collection with the help of a dedicated private account manager.

These liquors can be stored for later drinking or kept as an investment.

Both allow investors to choose how much they are willing to pay each month, but recommend at least £250 – an amount that could put the investment out of reach for many, as wine should be a small part of a broader investment and savings profile.

Global fine wine collection platform, Cult Wines, has launched a new wine investment platform, which it claims is “accessible”.

It offers four different account types – Cru Classe, Premier Cru, Grand Cru and Cult Cru but the minimum investment point is £10,000.

Tom Grange, CEO and co-founder of Calt Wines. And a former junior candidate on the TV show, he argues that investing small amounts in wine is like owning just one stake in Apple.

“Realistically speaking, you can only get a range of wines with risk-adjusted returns if you invest at £10,000,” he explains.

To do a good job, you need wider access to a wider variety of wine or else the chances of making money are much lower. It’s like putting one chip on the roulette table.

Lot 544, containing 11 bottles of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Romanée-Conti 1971, sold for £269,500 at Christie's

Lot 544, containing 11 bottles of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Romanée-Conti 1971, sold for £269,500 at Christie’s

Tips for investing in wine

If you’re on a tight budget, you can still invest in wines as there are ways you can cut costs:

1. Invest in lesser-known wines

Wines from Bordeaux and Burgundy in France have traditionally dominated the world of fine wine investing, but the market has changed dramatically over the past two decades.

Wine from the Rhone Valley in Germany, Italy, Australia and Latin America can now be monetized, although realizing it doesn’t have the same excellent reputation as the best French wines.

On investing in less well-known areas, Chapman says: “It is certainly possible, but it is a higher risk. One example of a good Argentine wine is the bodega chakra.

Pinot Noir ‘2018’ 55 was issued at £150 per six bond case and now trades for £300 per six bond case.

“It’s a project of two huge personalities in the wine business (Piero Insesa della Rochetta and Jean-Marc Roulot) and they have made some great wines in a very short period of time.”

Get advice before you start buying a lesser-known wine.

After all, there is reason why wines from certain regions have proven to be the best investment option, time and time again.

While some overseas wines are gaining prominence if you want stability and the ability to sell wine easily, it is best to stick with well-known brands.

2. Invest for the long term

It's possible to invest in lesser-known wines, but there's a risk, says Jack Chapman, Lea & Sandeman's head of private customer sales.

It’s possible to invest in lesser-known wines, but there’s a risk, says Jack Chapman, Lea & Sandeman’s head of private customer sales.

All too often, investors in a panic over good wine feel that they are losing money in the short term.

Investing in wine, especially in the beginning, can be a volatile experience especially if you have purchased your wine at the highest prices.

Wine prices are determined by supply and demand.

The ideal investment point is usually when supply dwindles and demand increases.

“As with most investments, it is important to take a long-term approach when investing in wine,” says Gering.

In general, clients are advised to set a minimum three to five year horizon for their investment portfolios to benefit from a typical market cycle, with an optimal duration of five to 10 years.

“Our research has proven that you can boost your returns as well as reduce volatility when investing over the long term.”

3. Get advice

Advice from a neighbor or family member won’t make for the best investment advice when it comes to wine.

It is important to keep in mind that alternative investments such as wine and diamonds are not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Your money is not protected and you cannot claim compensation if things go wrong.

Do not accept unsolicited calls from people offering investments in wine and do not let anyone pressure the investment.

“Investing in wine is something you need to get advice on as you might be stuck with something waiting to build up for 10-30 years without doing much while you could make money elsewhere,” Chapman says.

It is possible to make good returns on your wine investment.  This year the value of Dom Perignon 2000 increased by 42.86%

It is possible to make good returns on your wine investment. This year the value of Dom Perignon 2000 increased by 42.86%

4. Avoid sharks

It is not unknown that some players in the industry will engage in wrong practices to entice people to overpay.

Some offer tales of unrealistic returns, whip lower quality wines for more money, or simply take your money and run.

Unless something is very rare, stick to regular bottle formats as larger bottles are hard to sell

Will Hargrove, Corney, and Barrow

One way to find a reputable dealer is to refer to a list provided by an alliance called The Bunch, see bunchwines.co.uk.

It says it lists the best independent wine dealers who adhere to their own code of practice.

Members of The Bunch include Yapp Brothers, Corney & Barrow, Adnams, and Lea & Sandeman to name a few.

5. Compare costs

There are a lot of costs associated with investing in wine. Storage is a big cost but it cannot be avoided, because if bottles or barrels are not stored properly, they can lose their flavor and market value over time.

Find out if storage includes insurance and ask about any other related costs such as management fees or sales commission. ‘There are fairly high transaction costs to consider which can be around £12 per 12 bottles per case per year,’ says Chapman.

Selling wine can also be expensive. Chapman adds: “Most dealers will take seven to 10 percent commission on the sale value. This is one of the biggest disincentives to investing and trading fine wines.

Not all investments in wine pay off immediately.  This year, Penfolds Grange 2010 is down -0.23%

Not all investments in wine pay off immediately. This year, Penfolds Grange 2010 is down -0.23%

What returns can you expect?

Long-term returns on investment in wine have been good with annual returns ranging between 10-15 percent according to some reports.

But it is often due to luck and the right timing. The price of the best Italian wines has risen 20 percent in the past 12 months, according to luxury wine trading platform LiveTrade, outpacing the returns of some French wines.

Some wines performed exceptionally well, while others suffered.

For example, Cult Wines says that the value of Dom Perignon 2000 increased 42.86 percent, but equally notes that those who invested in Penfolds Grange 2010 will reduce their investment by 0.23% this year.

You don’t need to find exotic wines to get good returns. Will Hargrove, Associate Director and Head of Fine Wine at Corney & Barrow advises: “Don’t bother finding the next big thing.

Get a good variety of wines from different regions. Unless something very rare, stick to regular bottle formats as larger bottles are hard to sell. Keep it simple.’

Investing in wine can have tax advantages, too. If you keep your boxes of wine as “security” in a temperature-controlled warehouse, you don’t have to pay duties or VAT. Profits can also be free of capital gains tax, as they are a foregone asset.

Will you make a profit?

There are many pros and cons to investing in wine, but as with anything, profit is not guaranteed.

The fine wine market is driven by external factors and anything from the grades of famous tasters to harvesting and repression against the wealthy in China can have affected prices.

It may seem like a good alternative if you want to invest in something that is not related to the stock market, but it is not something where you put all your savings, as it can be difficult to get your money out.

“It really depends on what you’re selling, but Bordeaux wine may be easier to sell than California wine, which can be a bit sticky,” Chapman says. It is not always possible to sell wine at the drop of the hat.

While it is possible to lose money, there is little chance – unless the wine is stored properly of course, or you get scammed – that the overall investment will become completely worthless.

‘One of the greatest things about wine is that it has intrinsic value,’ says Gering. The thing about wine is that if you take the best Bordeaux and champagne wines, they will have zero value in the market.

There may be a chance that the product has been priced too expensively. But it will never equal zero. I can’t guarantee that they won’t go down and there are examples of this, but what I can guarantee is that they never amount to anything.

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