Drinking and collecting wine are among the oldest human pastimes.
An ancient winery discovered in an Armenian cave, complete with a press, fermentation tanks and storage receptacles, was thought to date to 4100 B.C. while fragments of pottery found stained with vino are estimated to be over 8,000 years old.
Collecting wine, then, is nothing new.
Yet, from seasoned oenophiles with countless bottles from the finest vineyards on Earth, to those new to the wonderful world of wine collecting, many collectors may never have paused to ask themselves, why do we do it?
Why is it that some people go from enjoying a regular glass, to seriously considering buying that top-of-the-line climate-controlled wine cabinet?
From enjoyment of a well-aged vintage, to the cultural and psychological aspects of wine cellaring, let’s take a look at some of the main reasons we collect wine.
Growing in maturity
The phrase ‘aged like a fine wine‘ is oft-repeated, but we should never lose sight of its simple meaning.
There is a certain allure to caring for a bottle of sumptuous Châteauneuf-du-Pape over several years, and the anticipation of opening it for that very special occasion – a wedding, an anniversary – steadily builds as time passes.
Enjoying a wine that was bottled when you were a child, or even before your birth, holds a unique appeal that cannot be replicated.
In wines crafted to be aged, the process forges flavours, textures and aromas that would not have been present if the bottle were opened prematurely. It’s these subtle nuances that make the wait worth it, and why a bottle can rest in a fine wine cellar for decades.
Keep in mind, though, that only a mere one per cent of wines made around the world are designed for ageing.
Wondering why do some wines age well and other not?
Find out more in our Expert Advice article “Do All Wines Age Well?“
With such a small number benefiting from the passage of time, the elusiveness of such wines adds yet more charm to their rare appeal.
An investment to drink to?
Not often… indeed, there are only 75 wine labels deemed ‘investment-grade‘, according to Trellis Wine Investments – a very low proportion in the grand scheme of global wine production.
These wines are produced in quantities that rarely deviate from set levels each year, and with demand for such high-quality vino continuing to rise, prices are highly likely to trend up.
Additionally, as the years pass, exceptional wines become rarer and thus, more desirable. As the wine reaches optimum drinking age, many bottles from the same vintage will be opened and drunk. This drives up the price of remaining bottles further, so it’s easy to see why some people buy great wine without ever intending to drink it.
For the love of wine?
It’s nigh-on impossible to count each and every wine variety out there.
They hail from vineyards all around the world, and the excitement of finding a new bottle to add to your collection is near-palpable. Even if you pick up a wine that doesn’t challenge your bank balance, or even your tastebuds, it can be special to you in other ways.
Perhaps you took a punt on a bottle you came across on holiday with your loved one; when it comes time to open and enjoy it, happy memories of that wonderful time come flooding back.
Is it all psychological?
Building a wine collection can also be hugely relaxing, often acting as a welcome distraction from the stresses and strains of modern life.
Those of us that collect wine know it to be a purposeful enterprise that often leads to social connections with other like-minded people.
As collectors, our very nature means that we get pleasure simply from seeing and collating the bottles in our wine storage cabinets. We inspect, we refine, we make adjustments, until it is just right – collecting is half the pleasure.
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