How to Invest in Wine

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Contributor, Benzinga
June 12, 2023

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“Great is the fortune of he who possesses a good bottle, a good book, and a good friend.” - Moliere

When thinking of wine, most people picture a meal shared with friends and family enjoying a fine bottle of cabernet sauvignon. But along with its culinary attributes, wine can also be a worthwhile investment.

How Does Investing in Wines Compare to Other Investments?

Many people focus on traditional financial asset classes like stocks and bonds when it comes to investing. Other people invest in real estate or businesses. But fewer people consider investing in alternative assets such as wine.

Physical assets, if adequately researched before purchase and stored in the right conditions, have the opportunity to appreciate over time. They can be useful as a way to diversify your portfolio. When comparing wine investing to other investments, wine, as a physical asset, is subject to the same risks as other physical assets. For example, if you live in an earthquake-prone area such as California, you will need to ensure that your wines are protected in the event of a quake.

Even with storage risks, wine has delivered substantial returns over the past few decades. Many wines are traded on the London International Vintners Exchange (Liv-Ex), a market for the exchange of fine wines. Over the past five years, the Liv-Ex Fine Wine 1000 has averaged an 8.3% return. This return is slightly below the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average over the past five years, although the return on wine has been higher when looking at a 20-year time period.

How to Choose the Wines to Invest In

For many people, investing in wine is a way to put their money into something that they enjoy and can consume. It can be a fun and interesting hobby as well as a smart investment. If you're thinking about getting started in wine investing and building your wine collection, here's what you need to know.

The first thing to understand is that you can buy two basic types of wines: table wine and investment wine. Table wine is made to be consumed within a few years of being bottled. Investment wine is designed to be stored in a wine cellar for many years. It can appreciate in value over time, making it a valuable asset.

If you're interested in wine investing, you'll need to purchase investment-grade wines. These are usually higher-priced than table wines, but they have the potential to appreciate significantly in value over time. When choosing a wine for investment, consider factors such as the wine's grape variety, its region of origin and the producer. You can choose from over 200 types of wines.

When it comes to selling your wine, you'll want to wait until it has reached its peak value. This goal can take many years, so you'll need to be patient. It's also important to work with a reputable wine merchant who specializes in investment-grade wines. They can help you determine when your wine is ready to be sold and get you the best possible price.

Features That Influence the Price of Wine

Wine is typically classified by its region of origin, grape variety, style and quality. The most common types of wine are red wine, white wine, sparkling wine and dessert wine. Red wine is made from red or black grapes and can be dry or sweet. White wine is made from white grapes and can also be dry or sweet. Sparkling wine is made by adding carbon dioxide to wine, which gives it its characteristic fizz. Dessert wine is a sweeter type of wine.

How Wine is Graded

The quality of wine is typically graded on a scale from A to C, with A being the highest quality and C being the lowest quality. The grading system for wine can vary depending on the country of origin, but generally, higher-quality wines will be made from better grapes and will be aged for a longer period.

Key Features of a Wine that Appreciate

The key features of a wine that is likely to appreciate are its age, condition and provenance. In general, older wines, especially those that have been well-maintained, will be more valuable than younger wines. Wines from well-known producers or with a history of winning awards are also likely to appreciate in value. Wines that have been stored in ideal conditions are also more likely to appreciate than those that have not.

How You Can Start Investing in Wine

Consider these options if you want to invest in wine.

Buy and Hold Bottles

The simplest way to start investing in wine is to go to the store and buy some. Then store the wine properly and track its price through online wine markets to determine when you are ready to sell it. Another option is to purchase wine at an auction. The fact that wine is at an auction means that the auction house has already determined a demand for that bottle of wine. You need to do your research beforehand to ensure that you do not get caught up in a bidding war and end up overpaying for the bottle.

Fractional Shares

If you have limited funds, are just getting started or want more diversity in your wine portfolio, you can also invest in fractional shares of bottles. Companies like Vint specialize in these types of investments. Purchasing wine through a wine investment fund or investing platform is one of the most popular ways to invest in wine. Wine investment funds offer several advantages, including professional storage and management of your wines along with the ability to diversify your investment across many different wines.

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However, wine investment funds can be expensive, and there is no guarantee that you will make a profit on your investment. You need to check the expense ratios of the fund since administrative fees will decrease your potential returns. Like other funds, you trust the expertise of the fund managers, but for wine funds, the experts are choosing bottles of wine instead of stocks and bonds.

If you are interested in investing in wine but don't want to go through a wine investment fund, there are a few other options available to you.

Wine Stocks

You can invest in wine through wine-related stocks or a wine exchange-traded fund (ETF), which is a type of investment fund that tracks a group of wine companies and trades on an exchange like a stock. Wine ETFs offer the ability to invest in wine without the need to purchase and store the bottles yourself.

You can invest in wine futures, which are contracts to purchase wine at a set price at a future date. Wine futures can be a risky investment, as the price of wine can be volatile, and you may not be able to find a buyer for your contract at the price you agreed to.

Another option is to invest directly in wine producers by purchasing shares in the company. This can be a risky investment, as the success of the company depends on a number of factors, including the quality of its wines, the expertise of its management team and the overall health of the global wine market. Local wine manufacturers also face weather risks and may experience poor crops.

No matter which option you choose, it is important to do your research and understand the risks before investing in wine.

Other Considerations When Investing in Wine

Wine investing can be a risky proposition, as the price of wine can be volatile, and you may not be able to find a buyer for your contract at the price you agreed to. If you are physically in possession of the wine, you will also need to consider delivery costs when calculating your potential return. If you don’t have the space to store your wines in your home, there are also wine storage companies that specialize in holding your wine safely at ideal temperatures.

Wine investment funds remove many of the inconveniences of holding wine yourself, but the convenience comes at a price. Wine investment funds often charge over 1% management fees, which are significantly more than stock index funds.

If you are considering investing in a specific winery or distributor, you should keep in mind that their success can vary substantially each year because of weather conditions and public opinions. Consumers' tastes frequently change, especially when it comes to beverages that are trendy, which can affect the return on your wine investments. If you choose to go this route to get into the wine market, you need to be prepared for considerable variation in your returns.

A Rewarding Journey

Becoming a wine investor can be a fun and rewarding experience. However, it's important to understand the risks involved and take the time to learn about the wine market before making purchases. With a little research and patience, you can find great wines that have the potential to appreciate in value over time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q

Is wine a good investment?

A

Investing in wine can be profitable, but it requires expertise and knowledge. High-quality and rare bottles can appreciate in value similar to the stock market, but there are risks such as spoilage and market fluctuations. Proper research and consultation with professionals are important before investing in wine.

Q

Should I seek professional guidance for wine investments?

A

Professional guidance is recommended for investing in wine because of the complexity of the process and the need for a deep understanding of the market and specific wines. A professional advisor can provide valuable insights and advice on managing and growing a wine investment portfolio.

Q

Are there tax considerations for wine investments?

A

Investing in wine can have tax implications, which vary depending on the country and jurisdiction. Capital gains tax or income tax may apply, and regulations related to storage and transportation can also impact tax treatment. Consulting a tax professional or financial advisor is recommended.

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