Tuesday, March 18, 2008

What's Your Wine Worth?

I don't buy wine as an investment, though some people do. Still, it's fascinating to know what your wine is worth and how much (if at all) it's going up in value. (terrific photo by Tonx)

Thanks to CellarTracker's built-in cellar value feature, and their tie-in with the wine auction site WineBid.com, I've been watching my wine values for the last few months and recently noticed that my cellar value was going up. I knew I was still spending well under $20 a bottle for most of my wine. So I wondered what was going on and looked further into the depths of my small cellar for more information.

Turns out that Bordeaux really does go up in value. My 2003 Chateau La Vieille Cure purchased at Costco last June has crept up in value from $21 to $35. So, too, do some Italian and Australian reds. A 2001 Stefano Farina Barolo I bought for $28 in December 2006 is now worth $40, for example. And, I bought a 2005 d'Arenberg Laughing Magpie Shiraz-Viognier about a year ago for $19--and it's now worth $34.

In my cellar, it also turns out that the more you spend on wine in the first place the more likely it is to increase in value. I bought a 750ml 2003 Chateau Lafaurie-Peyraguey Sauternes from BevMo for $45 back in October of 2006. It's now worth around $75, according to WineBid.com's quarterly average price. This is the most expensive bottle of wine I've ever bought. It's now the 2nd most valuable bottle I've got in my cellar--the bottle that beat it was a gift.

Do you know what your wine's worth? Even if you're not an investor, and even if you spend relatively little on your wine in the first place you may be surprised. But remember: a wine's value is relative to its condition, so think about storage conditions. And always consult a professional if you are making serious wine investments.


Anonymous said...


I'm pretty surprised at the Laughing Magpie, though. We still have this in stock (it hasn't been a big mover for us) and it's priced at $25, like many other places online who also still have the 05 vintage (according to wine-searcher). Wonder how it could be worth $34 if it's still on retail shelves in good supply for significantly less?

Like any other market, wine is only worth what people will pay for it. Finding a buyer isn't always easy, except for the most collectible of products.

So it's all good and well to assign a value to wine as with other investments; but due to legality issues and hefty supply -- not to mention a fickle pool of buyers -- wine is, ironically, not the most liquid investment!

Velvet Fog said...

That is cool. It almost makes me want to enter all my wine into cellar tracker. Almost.
I was wondering too about to whom and how you would go about selling it. Is there a wineswap website somwhere?

Edward said...

Agree with Jill,

The prices are surprising. In Australia, the prices on the secondary (auction) market are usually 20% less than retail for most current release, readily available wines. Older and cult wines usually have a premium attached.

David McDuff said...

I have the feeling that what you're seeing, at least with the wines mentioned in Deb's post, is not an increase in value but simply a rather wide variance in current retail pricing structures across the country. Without researching Cellar Tracker's pricing mechanisms, my guess is that they're set toward the high end of the range.

Do it, VFog. Cellar Tracker is very cool and worth the initial set-up time.

And Debs, in spite of the title of your blog, I'm a little shocked that you've never spent more than $45 on a bottle. I don't do it often but it's necessary from time to time if you really want to explore certain wine regions and types. Just as one needle of an example in the haystack of categories, though there is $28 Barolo on the market, there is no such thing as good $28 Barolo.


Anonymous said...

From my experience in the investment business, my initial reaction to your post is that much of that appreciation could be a one-time thing, resuting from the drop in the value of the US Dollar since your made your purchases. Especially since I noted that all of your references were to non-US wines. I'd be curious to know if any of your domestic purchases show similar increases. If so, then the comments on Cellar Tracker's pricing mechanism, etc may be valid as well.

Interesting post, nevertheless!

Dr. Debs said...

Hi everyone. Lots of great comments here. First, let me just clarify: these are WineBid.com quarterly average auction prices. They are not retail, which I have found is lower on wines that are still available. Perhaps the higher auction prices have to do with certified storage conditions, etc?

Second, John is correct--these are all European. I don't buy much if any high-end US wine. The one wine that has appreciated since I bought it is a 2002 Larkmead Cabernet that I bought for just over $38 and is now valued at $46.

David, I disagree with you completely about Barolo,and the rather sweeping statement that there is no good $28 Barolo. I bought a 2001 Stefano Farina Barolo for $27.95. It is amazing, most Cellar Tracker drinkers agree it is amazing, and the average price paid on CellarTracker was $27.05. And if points matter to you, it got a 93 from one of those mags. I don't buy hugely expensive wine, and I'm not alone. Still, careful and informed shoppers can often make excellent purchases like this one and get to both have an excellent Barolo and not be sick at heart the whole time thinking of how much money they spent on it.

David McDuff said...

Hi Deb,

I didn't mean to strike a nerve, though I do seem to have a knack for doing so.

I still do stand by my statement. It may be sweeping but I don't think it's wrong. However, as I haven't tried the Farina Barolo, I'll withhold judgment on the wine in question, saying only that Farina is a very large scale concern with winery properties ranging from Piedmont in the north all the way down to Puglia in the south. I suppose it could be that they make great wine and just believe in passing their theoretical economies of scale on to their customers.

And, I sense you guessed it, points don't matter one fig to me. What matters is the wine and what goes into growing it.

I could go on and on but I think that's enough for one comment.