Every year, wine lovers all around the world look forward to Christmas. It's a time for gathering with friends and family, sharing joy and laughter, and of course exchanging gifts!
If you’re looking for something different this year that will make a great gift for your loved one or client, consider rare wine.
A bottle of rare wine can be both a luxurious treat to enjoy or an investment opportunity.
To help you choose a bottle of fine wine as a gift, we’ve compiled some points below about what makes wine such a great choice as a luxury item or investment opportunity. A sort of collecter’s guide to fine wine, to make your decision easier.
Are buying and collecting wine the same thing?
No. Collecting wine is the act of buying, selling and trading wines for research or investment purposes. Collectors are interested in rare varieties that have a low production rate, such as red Burgundy from France’s Cote d’Or region, but they do not necessarily drink them all.
In fact, most fine wines remain unopened once purchased because it becomes more difficult to justify opening investment bottles when there are so many others still waiting to be uncorked!
There is also a strong secondary market for rare wine which makes a good financial asset too – especially if you can find something truly exceptional like an 1811 Chateau Lafite Rothschild.
How do I decide which rare wine to buy?
When selecting a rare wine to gift, it is important to consider the following factors:
Provenance and pedigree
Make sure you know what you’re buying! There are many fakes and forgeries in the wine world. A provenance history is an important indicator of authenticity.
Will the wine hold its value in years to come? Some wines are only produced in tiny quantities which makes them extremely collectable (and therefore valuable) while others become rare because they sell out immediately. If you can find one that has both qualities then even better!
The age and rarity of the bottle itself are key here as well as any special attributes or design that might make it more attractive to the collector. For example, a bottle from an exclusive vintage or with the signature of a famous winemaker can significantly increase its value.
You might think this goes without saying but if you’re going to spend big on a rare wine make sure it’s in perfect condition! Any chips, cracks or signs of ageing will devalue the bottle considerably.
Whether or not the bottle is corked or sealed
If it’s not corked, don’t bother! The wine inside will have evaporated out and the lack of a seal can indicate that the wine has been removed and replaced with a cheaper version.
The price tag
Expensive doesn’t always mean good but equally a cheap rare wine will not necessarily be worth anything either. It’s best to get an expert opinion if possible before you buy.
Tips for buying wine as a gift
When selecting a rare bottle of wine to give as a gift, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Is the wine from a reputable producer?
- What is the wine’s vintage? Older wines tend to be more valuable.
- How many bottles are available? The fewer bottles that exist, the more valuable the wine will be.
- Where was the wine bottled? Wine made in certain regions (like Burgundy or Bordeaux) is typically more expensive.
- Is the wine unique? Collectable bottles are typically released in small quantities, making them more valuable than their mass-produced counterparts. If you’re unsure about a given bottle of wine, ask an expert to verify its authenticity and value before purchasing it.
- Is it a special edition, or does the label have any unique features? Collectable wine bottles are typically released in limited quantities and feature more ornate labels.
- What is its rating by critics? A high rating from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate could inflate a bottle of otherwise common wine to collectable levels. But don’t put too much stock in ratings, as they can be entirely subjective.
- Will you store it? Collectable wine bottles should always be stored correctly and kept upright at all times. This helps maintain the quality of its contents over time – a vital part of any collector’s shelf life.
- Opt for reds at first – when choosing what kind of rare wine to buy as gifts this holiday season, start with something red. Not only do they age better (and therefore last longer), rare versions of these bottles tend to be more expensive than their white counterparts.
- Check its market desirability: The final thing to consider when buying a rare wine as a gift is its market desirability. This means checking to see how many of that particular bottle are available and how much they’re selling for. You don’t want to give someone a wine that’s readily available and won’t be appreciated as a special gift.
How do I store a vintage bottle once I have one?
Proper storage is essential when buying and collecting fine wine, especially if you plan on holding onto your investment for any length of time. There are a number of different ways to go about this but at minimum, here are some basic rules:
Keep bottles upright
Storing bottles horizontally may lead to oxidation or cork damage so always keep bottles standing up.
Keep bottles in a cool, dark place
Direct sunlight or heat can damage wine over time, so make sure your storage area is nice and cool (ideally between 50 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit).
Store corks moist
If you’re not going to drink the wine right away, it’s important to store the cork in some moisture. This will help keep it from drying out and cracking.
Use a humidity control device
Depending on where you live and how humid your climate is, you may need to use a humidity control device like a Boveda pack to keep things at the correct level. Too much humidity can be just as bad as too little, but you don’t need to worry about that unless there’s visible moisture on the cork.
Don’t freeze your wine
It may seem like a good idea, especially if you’re planning on drinking the bottle right away and want to chill it quickly before serving, but doing so can damage the flavour profile of fine wines over time.
The cold temperature won’t do anything to prevent spoilage or keep things fresh for longer periods of time either.
Tips for starting your own wine collection
Collecting wine can be a very rewarding experience, both for you and your friends and family.
It’s best to start small by learning about the different types of grapes used in making wine, what wines are produced where on earth, how long it takes for them to grow etc… before investing too much time or money into something you may not enjoy in the long run.
You don’t have to become obsessed either but knowledge is certainly power especially when it comes to knowing the difference between an aged vintage bottle vs one which only has minimal ageing done to it.
The great thing about wine is that there are literally no boundaries when it comes to price and, like anything else in life, you get what you pay for.
This being said, I’ve put together a few tips on what to look out for if you’re thinking of purchasing a rare bottle of wine as a Christmas gift.
- Vintage: Aged wines are always more desirable than newly made wines but be careful as some unscrupulous sellers may pass off recently made wine as vintage just to hike up the price. The best way to determine whether or not a wine is truly vintage is to research how long it’s been aged for and where it was produced.
- Region: The wine’s region of production is also a key factor when determining its value. For example, Burgundy wines are typically more expensive than those from Bordeaux because the former is made in a smaller area with a greater focus on quality.
- Bottle: The condition of the bottle is another important consideration. Look for bottles that have no chips or cracks and haven’t been resealed with wax or tape as this could be an indication that the wine has been tampered with.
An excellent Christmas gift
When it comes to choosing a rare wine as a gift, there really is no wrong answer as long as you do your research first! So get out there and start browsing some of the best wine auctions online to find the perfect bottle for your loved ones this Christmas.