Fine wines and spirits have become a recognised alternative investment to the traditional antique and collectable market - A ‘passion investment’ that can appreciate in value, whilst providing great pleasure to its owner. The auction room has become a favoured location for both the sale and purchase of fine wines and spirits. In recent years, prices for high quality wine, port and whisky in particular have risen as the market broadens its international reach.
Here Paul Fox, head of Sworders' Fine Wine & Spirits department, discusses his passion for the subject.
How did you become a wine specialist?
I had always been a casual drinker of wine, but it was while working at Sworders that I first started to attach an intellectual interest to the subject. A few exams and a number of years later, my knowledge and passion had flourished and I’d begun valuing wine and spirits professionally.
Can you briefly outline the ways the wine trade has changed in recent years?
People are more experimental with what they drink. You just have to look at the average supermarket wine aisle to see a vastly broader selection than ever before. Vintage wine as well as spirits – in particular whisky – are attracting a similar interest, with a clientele keen to see what all the fuss is about. Like many collecting markets, it has become truly international – with an increasing interest in the best Scotch whisky coming from the Far East.
What makes Sworders’ department different from those in London?
As well as the practical advantages that come with sitting just outside the hustle and bustle of the city, Sworders have retained a personal, independent feel from our roots as a family run business, meaning we can tailor our service to suit the individual, whilst simultaneously appealing to a global market.
What is a common assumption people make about buying wine at auction?
That it needs to be expensive. Whilst we are fortunate that we are able to offer a regular supply of the world’s most valuable wines, it is the quality of the wine that we are selling that we value over price. Our sales regularly feature cases of premium wine for under £20 per bottle – perfect for special occasions on a budget.
What are the emerging areas for wine collecting and which area would you be most interested in exploring?
The New World continues to excite with its innovative take on premium wine production – favouring cutting edge technology over the traditional methods - though it’s closer to home on the Iberian peninsula where many are finding their attention drawn. It’s no longer uncommon to see unfortified wines from Douro – Portugal’s famous Port wine region – on restaurant menus, and gone are the days when Rioja is the only region associated with Spanish wine. Today, with a new generation of winemakers producing sophisticated wines in a variety of styles, Priorat, Ribera del Duero, Rias Baixas and many more are proving increasingly popular.
For more information or a complimentary auction valuation please contact Paul Fox
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