Go Ahead…Hoard That Wine

It’s just fine to buy wine with no intention of drinking it. It’s just fine to buy a wine with no more intention than having it and appreciating what it is without any intent to drink it.

This is collecting. And sometimes it gets a bad name.

“Label Sniffers”. “Ego Strokers”. “Snobs”. “Wine is for drinking.”

These are some of the charges that sometimes are leveled at that group of collectors who purchase wine—often expensive wine—simply to have and keep and with no intention of drinking. I suppose the buyers and keepers could in some cases deserve these labels but I think more commonly what we are dealing with is the same kind of person who might, as a colleague pointed out to me, “buy a stamp with no intention of placing it on a letter or buy a car with no intention of driving it”. They simply want it as an object of interest that sparks their mind and soul in some unique way.

Most of us collect some sort of object. For me, it’s books. I also enjoy collecting front pages from newspapers on the occasion of important events. And I have a few wines that I’ll never drink because they are mementos. But the thing about books and newspapers I that they are not meant to be anything other than objects. Wine, on the other hand, can legitimately be said to be something created for a singular purpose: to consume. This, for some, makes the idea of collecting, keeping and not drinking the wine some sort of sin to be labeled derogatorily.

The beauty of collecting wines is that it has the potential to represent something or some time in a particularly unique way. Vintage is the most obvious. Some years are just more important to us than others because of the events that happened during those 12 months. Kathy and I welcomed Henry George into our lives in 2014. That vintage will be represented in our home in the form of a Napa Valley wine or two since the guy was born in Napa Valley. And we won’t be drinking those wines.

Perhaps it’s the place the wine represents to the collector. Imagine a single vineyard that also happened to be the location where you were married or where you met your mate. Here again, the wine made from that specific vineyard or winery from the year you were married or met would be something to seek out and keep and cherish as a symbol of importance.

But then there is the wine collector who merely wants to HAVE the wine. It does not represent a time or a place or an event. it is simply something that the collector is pleased to possess. This is the kind of collecting that appears to upset a number of folks, particularly folks who are genuine wine lovers. I don’t think we ought to denigrate this practice. The things that please one person, the things that bring pleasure to the life of one person can’t be dismissed or objected to if it hurts no one else. Nor does the simple collector of things or wine disturb any natural processes. It is not a contest, this life, to be the purest consumer.

I say collect and horde! I say do it because it brings meaning and value and pleasure. I say ignore the labelers. And anyway, It’s gonna get opened and drunk at some point when you are gone. Isn’t it.



6 Responses

  1. Thanks Tom, great piece! - October 21, 2021

    Great piece, Tom!

  2. Keith K Wollenberg - October 21, 2021

    The thing is that many of those trophy wines will gather dust in a cellar long beyond their actual drinking window. I collect wine. Heck I have a couple thousand bottles, some purchased as long as 40+ years ago. But what I bought are experiences, that I suspect the winemakers would approve of, as that is part of why they labor over each wine.

    Trophy collectors are all well and good, but they drive up prices, and reduce the chance for others to actually drink the wine, sharing them with food and friends. So I cannot entirely agree with you on this one, Tom.

    They have every right to buy the bottles and collect them. But I firmly belong to the cars should be driven and wine should be drunk school. My 50 year old car gets driven less, but puts a giant grin on my face when I do drive it.

  3. Jon G - October 22, 2021

    All I can say is I’m glad some people bought more wine than they drank because it has let met access older bottles of wine much earlier in my collecting window. And what’s the difference between someone with the intent to sell vs someone who bought with the intention to drink and end up selling? Not much. And arguably people that are buying these “trophy wines” with the intent to drink are probably buying too much wine anyway, and realistically won’t drink all the bottles which will end up at auction anyway.

  4. Tone Kelly - October 22, 2021

    I have always bought wine for consumption rather than collecting or for investment.
    I had my crossing of the Rubicon moment when I picked up my 28 cases of 1982 Bordeaux in the spring of 1985. The store owner asked me if I wanted to sell them back at 2-3 times what I paid for them. I thought about it for a minute and realized at that point I was in it for the wine and not the money. I have never looked back since then.

  5. Jennnifer Lamb - October 26, 2021

    Tom – Great to read your latest, and it resonates with me through and through. But having lost 150 + cases in the Glass Fire last year, I just wish that the week before I had set up rows of tables throughout the vineyard and offered to provide all the wine for a community pot-luck where friends and neighbors could have joined me in enjoying (or not, and moving onto another bottle) my 40 years of wine collecting . . . it would have felt so much more rewarding and given so many people so many more memories to share . . .

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