I don’t understand wine collectors. For that matter, I don’t understand collecting anything consumable (I’m looking at you, guy paying $2,500+ for a bottle of bourbon). Last summer, a wine collection with 4,600 bottles went to auction and was valued at roughly $7.6 million. If I had 4,600 bottles of incredible wine, do you know what I would do with it? Drink it. That’s how I enjoy good wine. I open it, I taste it, I savor it and then I recycle the empty bottle. Ironically, the fact that this wine is so good is exactly the reason that it’s so expensive. So, you start collecting and then you sit on a cellar full of wine with a reputation for being rare and delicious. This is how the wine stays valuable. This is exactly why you can never drink the bottles. This is how you protect your investment. But here’s the catch: you don’t actually know the wine is good. You’re just taking someone else’s word for it. How does this make sense? Collecting wine is a paradox.
If I were to have acquired this 4,600 bottle wine collection valued as high as $7.6 million, I would absolutely drink it. The average value of a single bottle from this collection is $1,652.17. Even if I were to drink one bottle per night, every night, it would be 12 years before I finished. Let’s say I break at least one bottle per year. That’s a cool $19,826 down the drain, or on the floor as it were.
Do you understand how absurd the proposition of drinking one priceless bottle of wine every single night for over 12 years really is? When I was 16, my friend got a fabulous deal on a bulk amount of Tropical Skittles. Tropical Skittles are undeniably delicious. After one week he was giving them away. After three weeks, all of his friends, myself included, were saying, “no” when he tried to get us to take some of his Tropical Skittles. And we loved Tropical Skittles. So how many bottles of delicious, aged Bordeaux would I make it through before I got tired of it? Truthfully, I would probably get sick of the act of consuming a nightly bottle before I got tired of the taste. It’s a commitment to drink an entire bottle of priceless wine every evening. How many weekdays would pass before I would be calling around asking my friends to come over for another glass of 2000 Petrus? How many evenings before my friends stopped answering my calls?
Now, let’s imagine that all of this wine is truly as delicious as the hype indicates. How many days/months/years before I’m not only sick of the nightly consumption commitment, but also the taste? Eventually, just like the Tropical Skittles, I would end up not drinking a bottle every day due to sheer monotony alone. Instead, I would keep the wine in a beautiful cellar and house an incredible collection. Ultimately, I would pass away and my impressive collection would go up for auction. Some blogger would whine about why I never drank any of this incredible vino.
So now you see, even as somebody who wants to drink my collection, I can’t. Collecting wine is a paradox.
Sources: Whiskey Wash, Chicago Tribune