Investing in wine can be a tricky business. While most wine merchants are honest, some of them take much too big a profit. The answer is to subscribe to Liv-ex.co.uk, which produces a fine wine index based on live prices, which is rather more relevant than the existing historical indices.
It also produces a price book which shows the current market price as well as the high and low market prices for the last year for the vast majority of fine wines. For example, the price of 2001 Chateau Petrus is now £4,250 a case whereas the year's low price was £3,802 and the high price was £4,900. If you are paying more than 10 per cent higher than the current price, you are being ripped off.
The most expensive case of wine sold last year was a 1982 Chateau Le Pin for £29,500. Sadly, I have never had a chance to drink it.
Wines have increased enormously in value. I remember buying one of my favourite wines, Chateau Gloria, at 15 shillings a bottle in 1972. It now sells at around £30 a bottle from a wine merchant and up to £100 in a restaurant.
Good red Burgundy on the whole is cheaper than the top Bordeaux but Richebourg and La Tache fetch very high prices. Port is still very good value. For example, some excellent 1985 ports such as Cockburn, Sandeman and Warre can still be bought for around £20 a bottle.
White wines are generally much cheaper than reds although the best vintages of Chateau Yquem sell for around £2,000 a case, some of the best white Burgundys at over £4,000 a case and the best Champagnes at over £2,000 a case.
It can be very profitable and fun investing in wine but make sure you do not drink all the profits.