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Smart Wine Buying

A wine portfolio may sound impressive but it is not the sole preserve of the wine connoisseur.

Indeed, anyone can build their own collection and you can start as small as your budget allows. Planning ahead by creating your very own cellar not only takes the drudgery out of buying it daily (and prevents any last-minute purchasing disasters) but also helps you understand, and ultimately challenge your own preferences. It need not be an expensive exercise either, in fact it will probably save you money.

The advantage of getting someone else to buy your stock for you is that there are no nasty surprises. After a short consultation during which your taste preferences are discussed, your storage solutions assessed and your budget and drinking habits taken into account, a selection of mixed cases is sent your way.

Each mixed case holds 12 bottles of wines that have been hand-picked to suit your palate. Accompanying them is a set of notes detailing exactly why each should fit your ‘taste profile’. There will also be a few bottles that are thrown in to surprise. After all, no point using an expert without learning something too.

It is your responses to these wines that will determine the look and feel of your bespoke collection. Therefore a cellar is literally drawn up for you: to your unique taste specifications.

There is no minimum investment so you can start modestly and add to the collection when you feel flush. Or for those at the other end of the spectrum that fancy their chances as investors (there is no capital gains tax on wine), there is the opportunity for adding stock sourced both from the world of fine wine auctions and from the futures, or ‘en primeur’, market.

It’s then up to you to start enjoying your very own, personalised collection. And if you want food-and-wine pairing advice, that’s available too!

Lavinia Brown is the former wine specialist for Bonhams and author of Cracking the Wine Code. She is offering a complimentary wine cellar consultation for all readers who contact her before 31 January 2011. Christmas gift vouchers are also available, and orders placed before 17 December will receive a 10% discount.

Lavinia Brown