Fuzzy memories: Friday Fizz

wpid-dsc_0758.jpgIt’s difficult to remember a time when each day of the week didn’t have a cute name that encouraged us to drink wine. As though we needed additional excuses to imbibe, social media has hastened the spread of such occasions as Wine Wednesday or Thirsty Thursday.

Before it became fashionable to get tipsy mid-week, Friday was the day when the floodgates would open. No special name required. Friday was the word.

In this era of alliteration, simply calling it Friday would not do. But what in the wine world will match Friday? Fetească Regală Friday? I think not. I could see there being a Fino Friday, but you won’t want to drink too much given that it’s 15% ABV.

Helpfully, the British have an insatiable thirst for sparkling wine and Prosecco in particular. Last year, Prosecco overtook Champagne as the favourite fizz of the UK. Sales of the Italian sparkling wine soared to £182-million compared to £141-million for Champagne. Overall, volume sales for Prosecco amounts to 21-million litres in 2014, with Champagne at 6.5-million and Cava at 13-million.

It didn’t take long for someone to name a day of the week in honour of all the sparkling wine we drink. Hence Friday Fizz. But before we all ventured off to Aldi for ration of Prosecco at the start of the weekend, I had a friend who was honouring Prosecco Friday with a pallet of bottles bought from a Mancunian discount store that sold it for so cheap that it made Aldi and Lidl look like Fortnum & Mason. So cheap that you’d be mad not to bathe in it.

Except the thing with most Prosecco is that it satisfies that desire for something fizzy, but it doesn’t do much else. And so it can be a real challenge to write anything profound other than to say it’s a crisp, fruity and fizzy means of delivering a desired amount of alcohol into my bloodstream. QED.

All of this build-up relates to the fact that, quite a few months back, I was sent a picnic basket containing a fairly useful wool blanket and three bottles of Italian fizz: two sparklers from Piedmont and one Asti Spumante. There was also a Presecco DOC for good measure. Sample bottles from Gancia — okay, freebies.

If you read Sediment Blog last week, you’ll know they forgot to taste the sample bottle they were tasting. I can say it’s easy to suffer the same fate. Because in this case, I’ve done exactly the same thing. First, I kept putting it off. I’ll review them another day, I kept saying. The problem is that, in my house, Friday Fizz almost always has a disastrous effect on my Saturday mornings. Opening a bottle of fizz is not the same as opening a bottle of Fino. You don’t merely have one glass and then stash the bottle in the fridge until the following day. No. Fizz is of the moment. Once those bubbles are released, their existence is fleeting. So you open a bottle, drink the contents and then wake up the following day feeling as though someone has hit you over the head with a mallet.

So. Those bottles from Gancia. The problem is that while I recall where those bottles went, I can’t recall the exact location of my tasting notes if any were written. The bottles in question were:

I hate to disappoint the folks at Full Fat PR, but my review has been nothing short of a failure. The fizz was superb, but I’ll be darned if I can muster precise tasting notes that go beyond preferring these bottles of Gancia to your garden variety Italian sparklers. It seems none of this will matter all that much, for even though the folks at Gancia announced a big launch into the UK last spring, it looks nigh on impossible to buy in the retail trade right now. Pity.

A Majestic whine about prices

ID-1009400When the folks at Majestic Wine said customers would be able to buy one bottle at a time rather than the previous six, it provoked debate. Was this a bold move to dominate the high street or was it a last-ditch effort to remain relevant in the face of stiff competition?

On the surface, Majestic’s long overdue change of business model appears to be the right decision. No more cases of Oyster Bay stacked haphazardly on top of each other. No more requirement to buy six bottles when all you wanted was something to go with your roast. No more confusing pricing where the only way to get the best price was by buying two of everything. From here on, simplicity reigns. Majestic is no longer a dusty warehouse; it’s your friendly neighbourhood bottle shop. Right?

Well, not so fast. While Majestic is emphasising its decision to sell by the bottle, its pricing model remains largely focused on selling  by the mixed case of six. In the past week I visited my local Majestic on two occasions to buy a single bottle and twice I walked out empty-handed. In each instance this was based purely on price. Despite being able to buy one bottle, there is no incentive to do so when the spread between the single-bottle price and mixed-case of six price is so wide.

Among the bottles I considered buying at my local Majestic were Nyetimber Classic Cuvee 2010 and CVNE Imperial Reserva Rioja 2009. Majestic lists a single bottle of Nyetimber for £35.99. But if bought as part of a case of six, it drops to £26.98. That’s a difference of £9.01 or 25%. Similarly, CVNE Imperial Reserva Rioja 2009 is listed at £25 for one bottle or £19.99 when bought as a case of six, or 20% less.

If buying six bottles at a time, Majestic’s prices aren’t bad. But anyone wanting just a single bottle is being forced to pay a premium. And it’s not as though either of these wines are difficult to find in other retailers. For instance, CVNE Imperial Reserva Rioja is widely available across the UK, for example at Waitrose for £21.99, at the Wine Society for £16.67 (after paying one-off £40 membership fee and shipping if the order is less than £75), £19.95 from Asda and at the Co-operative in the region of £17 based on a recent visit to one of their shops.

The price of the Nyetimber is even more telling because it is so widely available. Waitrose sells it by the bottle for £31.99. Slurp does it for £31.95. So too Berry Bros & Rudd. Even high-end retailer Hedonism sells it for £31.50. Over at the Wine Society, it will cost £27.50 once you’re a member. And at Amathus, the 2008 vintage is listed on their website at £32.75.

I wondered if these two bottles were simply anomalies, so I went onto the Majestic website to do some comparison shopping with randomly selected bottles that are widely available. First up is Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc 2014. One bottle at Majestic will set you back £11.99, but in a mixed case it costs £7.99. At Asda, Tesco and Waitrose, it sells for £9.50. Next is Lopez de Haro Rioja Blanco 2014. At Majestic, it’s £9.99 or £7.49 in a mixed case. If you want just the single bottle, you can find it cheaper at Highbury Vintners, selling for £9.

Now, to be fair to Majestic, the next wines that I looked up appeared to be priced in line with competitors. E Guigal Cotes du Rhone 2011, for example, lists for £11.99 at Majestic or £7.99 in a mixed case. At most other retailers, the price was broadly the same: £11.50 from Waitrose, for example. Similarly, Catena Malbec 2013 lists at £12.99 for a single bottle (£9.74 as part of a mixed case), the same price as Waitrose.

So where am I going with this? Majestic’s bold change of business model is a clear sign that they are listening to what the market wants, but I’m not convinced that they truly believe in it. Offering a discount for buying by the case is a standard incentive in the wine trade, but usually it amounts to 5% for six and 10% for 12. Majestic is still using the supermarket tactic of applying deeper discounts of 25% and 33% to wines when buying six at a time, but there is little evidence that they want to be competitive when it comes to some (many?) of their single-bottle prices.

On that basis, it seems Majestic is still trying to hang its hat on the concept of selling by six bottles or more by setting the price of a single bottle unattractively high. It is doubtful that their stores will attract a raft of new customers looking to buy just one bottle at a time when so much of their stock is sold cheaper elsewhere.

M&S re-imagines the Oregon Treaty

meyer-vineyards-2Just when you thought Canada has finally established itself on the global wine map, something crops up that makes it abundantly clear that there is still a long way to go.

As the price tag in the photo shows, it seems that not even Marks & Spencer is aware that Canada is a sovereign wine-producing nation – even though Canadian wine is nothing new for the retailer.

Despite a bottle that clearly states the wine’s origins — British Columbia, Canada — someone in the M&S machine decided to print a run of shelf tags that declare this Meyer Family Vineyards Pinot Noir as a product of the USA.

Perhaps the powers-that-be at M&S have decided that the Oregon Treaty of 1846 had a more disastrous outcome for the British, placing the Canada-USA border much further north than its current path along the 49th parallel.

How else could they have confused a wine from Canada’s Okanagan Valley  as being from the USA?

The wine in question is Meyer Family Vineyards Pinot Noir Oakanagan Valley 2014, which sells for £18.99 per bottle here in the UK.

Back in September this year when I visited the Meyer Family Vineyards winery in Okanagan Falls, British Columbia, it was, as far as I could tell, still on the Canadian side of the border. Unless something went drastically wrong between then and now, I believe this is still the case. It’s also fairly unlikely that the Americans mounted an opportunistic land grab during the recent election campaign.

wpid-dsc_0068.jpgView from the Meyer tasting room

Along with several other wines, I was able to taste the 2013 vintage of the Meyer Family Vineyards Okanagan Valley Pinot Noir, their entry-level version of this varietal wine. I can’t say for sure if the wine made for Marks & Spencer is made in the same way as the one sold in their home market, but these were my observations:

Meyer Family Vineyards Okanagan Valley Pinot Noir 2014

On the nose it has aromas of red berries, boiled sweets, forest floor and mushrooms along with brambly, spicy notes. Aged in older barrels with no new oak, this has plenty of red berries on palate with medium acidity. It is not one bit astringent, which is a characteristic that can plagues other entry-level pinots. Very enjoyable. — September 2015

Fine wine as an effective wealth store? I’m not buying it

Will the fine wine investment market ever get over its image problem? The answer to that largely depends on whether or not you think it has an image problem in the first place.

The question is provocative but important. Stories of wine investment scams and fraudulent brokers make headlines on what seems like a weekly basis, while at the same time our inboxes are flooded with research reports, news articles and marketing literature that tout the benefits of wine investment for the everyday investor. Never mind that the Financial Conduct Authority has clamped down on the promotion of alternative investments to retail investors — fine wine as an investment is not regulated by the FCA anyway.

A recent fine wine investment report published by Intelligent Partnership and sponsored by Cult Wines has made for some interesting reading, although the bulk of its contents are not particularly groundbreaking. Nevertheless, the report makes several claims about the investment potential of fine wine that I believe need to be challenged.

The first entry that gave me cause for concern was a rather bizarre pull-quote that made the report read more like an article out of a tabloid newspaper than a serious research outfit. Is this the image that they really want to portray?

“The funny thing is, wine is turning out to be a great investment. I couldn’t believe what happened with the value of my wine futures. I pinched myself and asked, ‘Did I just make more money on wine barrel futures than I did on the stock market?”

Suze Orman,
Financial adviser and CNBC presenter

Market corrections

Aside from the odd quote from Suze Orman, my biggest concern is how the report continues to promote wine as an ideal asset class that helps to add diversification to an investment portfolio, has low correlations to other investments and generates unmatched returns. Of fine wine’s correlation to global financial markets, the report states:

The crash in 2008 gave many investors an unpleasant shock in that investments which had been considered as good diversifiers were actually highly correlated and sharp negative price movements were mirrored across developed and emerging equities, bonds and property. This meant that the search was on for assets that are not correlated with the mainstream public markets in any conditions; wine, with its inverse supply and demand curve and only a 15% correlation with the mainstream financial markets, is a good candidate and its performance during 2008/2009 proved it does not follow the mainstream markets volatility
or acute downward movements.

Accompanying this statement in the report is a chart that plots the performance of global equities and government bonds against the Coutts Objects of Desire Index, which includes not only fine wine but also classic cars, stamps, coins, rugs, rare musical instruments and so on. The problem with this is that the Coutts index, as shown in the chart below, does not reflect the pure performance of wine because it contains so many other assets. Therefore, its behaviour in 2008 seems almost benign in 2008 when compared against other major asset classes (the precise make-up of which is not divulged in the report).

CouttsSource: Intelligent Partnership

A glance at the historic performance of any of the major Liv-ex indices (Liv-ex Fine Wine 50, Liv-ex Fine Wine 100, Liv-ex Fine Wine Investables) will show that fine wine prices actually went through a correction in late 2008 just like many other global stock markets (see chart below).

For example, the Lix-ex Fine Wine Investables Index saw a correction in the region of 20% in the second half of 2008 as it fell to a reading of 198 on 21 December 2008 from a peak of 248 on 30 June 2008. That is a fairly standard market correction. Moreover, the index started a multi-year bull run beginning in early 2009 just like many other global stock markets. This bull run lasted until 2011 when the market entered a major structural downturn that saw prices for Bordeaux wines fall across the board for several years. The below chart from the Intelligent Partnership report shows not only the 2008 correction that fine wine exhibited (thick red line), but also the slump that began in 2011.

indicesSource: Intelligent Partnership

The reasons for the 2011 downturn are various and widely documented. Unfortunately, the report only makes a brief mention of some of the causes for this and for the most part excluded a proper analysis of why the market for investment-grade wine began to slump in 2011. There is no mention of recession, volatile stock markets, the eurozone sovereign debt crisis, correlations with market and economic events (more of which later), a revolt against ever-higher en primeur prices, and so on. This is valuable information for any potential investor.

Lower correlations?

Wine might appear to be an attractive investment right now as a result of the prolonged downturn in the Liv-Ex 100 over the past five years, but that does not necessarily make it a perfect buying opportunity either. Yet this always seems to be the primary message coming from newspaper articles and research reports into the fine wine investment market.

One positive thing to extra from this report is that it does appreciate that the market has exposure to China, although it continues to trot out the argument that fine wine has a ‘very low correlation’ with financial markets and economies:

Although fine wine investing shows a very low correlation to mainstream financial markets, it is heavily exposed to emerging markets and China, “which many will regard as being a risk as well as an opportunity”. The key is to ensure that a portfolio is correctly balanced in terms of the markets invested in.

True, this can create an opportunity. Lower prices make a great entry point for investors. But for those who want to be fully aware of the risks, let’s look at some worrying levels of correlation that suggest that wine has anything but a ‘very low correlation’ to global markets.

As a luxury product, wine is geared into global growth and rising wealth levels. That explains why it boomed when Japan was booming, it boomed when the US was booming and it boomed again when China was booming. It also explains why there was a slump following the global financial crisis in 2008 and again in 2011 when China’s government began cracking down on corruption.

Oh, and then there was the time it was almost perfectly correlated with the Shanghai Stock Exchange. And yet the report makes this rather brave claim:

The right fine wine investment can be a very defensive holding as it has the capacity to remain stable under difficult economic conditions. Additionally, it has the advantage of not necessarily following the general trend of lagging behind the rest of the market during economic expansion because demand is consistently strong.

Consistently strong? During economic expansion, yes. But investors want to know about what happens when the opposite is true. What happens during an economic recession? What happens when the economy isn’t doing so well and conditions deteriorate? In the case of China, the buyers stop buying.

And then there is the market correlation everyone seems to have forgotten. Crude oil. Two economists at the International Monetary Fund were studying the factors that drive commodity prices upward and found that fine wine has a strong correlation with the price of oil.

Our results suggest that although fine wine can be considered as an investable asset, its behaviour is not significantly different than other commodities and therefore may fail to enhance portfolio diversification.

Fine wine prices are sensitive to macroeconomic shocks, just like crude oil and other commodity prices.

Serhan Cevik and Tahsin Saadi Sedik
International Monetary Fund


Not all is bad about this report, despite my critical statements. It does highlight the risks associated with investing in wine and it makes mention of the costs and expertise required to make informed decisions and ensure correct storage. I applaud the authors for discussing the downside to wine investment. My concern, however, is that it has not paid enough attention to the risks associated with fine wine and has downplayed the effect that global market and economic events can have on consumption and pricing. In the past, the small and relatively closed world of wine investment was sheltered somewhat from global events. This is no longer the case as more investors enter the market and globalisation takes hold.

Tasted: The Outsiders of Languedoc

wpid-dsc_0689.jpgWhen I first heard of the group of wine producers known as The Outsiders, I had visions that they were a band of outcasts akin to those conjured up by SE Hinton or even Camus.

I was clearly over-romanticising. The Outsiders in this case are anything but a band of misfits and societal outcasts. Instead, they’re a group of winemakers. All of them upstanding citizens. At least as far as I could surmise.

This is a group of winemakers operating in Languedoc-Roussillon who come from all over the world and from a variety of walks of life but, crucially, are not native to the region. What they have in common is their active decision to settle in Languedoc-Roussillon to make wine.

There are times when calling oneself an outsider is something to embrace. When it comes to the bureaucratic labyrinth that is the regulatory framework of the French appellation system, being an outsider is often seen as a disadvantage. The stubbornness of the appellation system is no place for an iconoclast, where decades of tradition are preferred over ‘frivolous’ notions of commercial viability, free enterprise and experimentation. Despite this, it seems that these Outsiders have been able to overcome, or embrace, the bureaucratic machine and carve out a niche for themselves.

As part of their effort to market their wares to UK merchants, this group of international winemakers (they come from all over the world, from America and Australia to the United Kingdom, Switzerland and yes, within France itself) hosted a small tasting in London back in early May.

Looking back on my rather shabby notes, I can see clear evidence that this was a decent tasting despite having experienced the onset of a head cold that same morning. First, I managed to write notes against every wine on the list, a clear sign that I neither grew bored with the wines, nor daunted by their numbers. Second, the greasy fingerprints left behind on the paper suggest that the spread of charcuterie and cheese on offer was more than adequate. Of course, as the photo below shows, reading the chicken scrawl that is my actual notes does present a bit of a challenge:



As a tasting that included a broad range of wines from across the Languedoc region, it is hard to make generalisations or make sweeping statements about the producers. Quality levels were high, but there were obvious differences among the producers in terms of what they are trying to achieve. Some are aiming for affordable, accessible wines, while others are aiming for something a little more profound. In other words, you won’t be having any flashbacks to that time you bought vin en vrac from what looked like a petrol pump behind a dusty shed.

If I’d had the foresight to, say, scribble down scores for each of the wines I tasted, I’d have a much easier time selecting my favourites from this group. But where is the fun in that?

Anyway, enough of my digressions. Here are my highlights from a good bunch of wines. Some of these winemakers are still seeking distribution here in the UK, while some are available to buy from various merchants and supermarkets, although I’ll be darned if I can remember which ones.

Chateau Rives-Blanques Occitania Mauzac Limoux 2013

A still white wine made from the mauzac grape, this is a rich wine that is matured in oak and offers up stone fruit flavours. This is a delicious wine that has a lot of heft and fruit behind it while still being dry

Domaine Sainte Rose Le Pinacle 2012

There is quite a lot to like about all of the wines of Domaine Sainte Rose, but if I had to narrow down my choice to just one, it would be Le Pinacle 2012. Consisting of 95% syrah and a 5% dash of viognier, this has the style of Cote Rotie with a lush palate and medium body. It has an attractive earthy character backed up by red fruits and the potential for a long life.

Chateau d’Angles Grand Vin Red 2010

La Clape is one of the great wine regions of southern France and this producer has brought some Bordelais swagger — complete with red trousers — to the area. The grand vin is a real pleaser, with a high level of mourvedre in the blend to make a deeper, bigger wine that has an attractive balance of fruit and earthy flavours.

Chateau Beauregard Mirouze Fiare 2010

I might be at risk of selecting too many ‘top’ wines from this tasting, but this was among the standouts from Chateau Beauregard Mirouze. With 18 months of barrel age, this displayed dark fruits (prunes and raisins) and had a deep, broody, earthy, chocolatey character to it. In many ways it was sunshine in a glass.

Domaine Saint Hilaire The Silk Chardonnay IGP Pays d’Oc2012

In the past I was never a big fan of chardonnay from the south of France. At times it seemed flabby, overripe and lacking any real character or complexity. But this is something different. It could very well be a competitor to decent Burgundy, having a healthy but not excessive oak treatment, not to mention a real elegance and finesse about it. Close your eyes and you think you’re drinking something from the Cote de Beaune or even the Cote d’Or.

Domaine La Madura Grand Vin Blanc 2014

This was a delight, a barrel-fermented, sauvignon blanc-dominant wine.Fermented and matured in older barrels, this older oak treatment is immediately noticeable on the nose, while on the palate it is rich with citrus and stone fruits, and has a long finish.

Domaine Turner Pageot La Rupture 2013

Another white wine that grabbed my attention. This was a lot like a white Bordeaux to me, made of sauvignon blanc but in a restrained style that is free from the more modern take on SB that has proliferated the market. Fresh, mineral and a good match for food. Not a whiff of cat pee to be sniffed.

Domaine Modat Le Plus Joli 2011

This is warm, spicy and very much a syrah from the south of France. With 80% syrah and the balance consisting of grenache and carignan,  this Rousillon displays licorice and nutmeg, with fine tannins and a long finish.

Chateau Saint Jacques d’Albas Le Chateau d’Albas Minervois 2012

A blend of syrah and grenache, this is aged 12 months in barrel and offers up all that is good about Minervois. It is warm, with fine tannins and a backbone of ample red fruits .

Domaine de Cebene Les Brancels Faugeres 2012

All of the wines from this producer were excellent, but Les Brancels seemed to stand out to me. This was what was described as the ‘house blend’ of syrah, grenache, mourvedre and carignan. I love the wines of Faugeres and this displayed all the characteristics that keep bring me back: warmth, earthy aromas a flavours, a good backbone of fruit and a fine complexity that pulls it all together.

Not mentioned…

Two other producers that were at the tasting but without a mention here were Le Clos du Gravillas and Domaine Le Clos du Serres. This was for no other reason except that my notes for these producers were a bit too sparse (likely because I was chatting rather than writing) for me to be able to write a recommendation.





Fine wine and pensions: A dangerous cocktail

wpid-dsc_0638.jpgThese are interesting times to be discussing investment advice. For those who invest in wine (without even discussing the rigours of the en primeur market), there has been nothing short of a deluge of stories about fly-by-night wine investment firms using high-pressure sales tactics on stock that never existed. For those who are simply investing for retirement, a new regulatory landscape that was introduced on 6 April has opened up incredible opportunities — and a great deal of uncertainty as well.

Right now you are probably wondering how these two topics are related. With interest rates and bond yields at low levels, investors have been clamouring for yield wherever they can find it, particularly those nearing retirement. Given how alternative investments — such as fine wine — have received a great deal of press over recent years for the returns they have achieved, it stands to reason that they have attracted many an amateur investor.

But as someone who used to be a financial journalist and today works somewhere in asset management, these are areas of investing that are best left for the experts and those who can afford them. So when I noticed that the Q&A column in the May 2015 issue of Decanter magazine featured advice on how best to supplement a pension income by using an inheritance to invest in wine, my curiosity was immediately piqued.

In this advice column, a reader asked this specific question:

I’m looking to invest in wine using an inheritance to supplement a pension — so looking at mid- to long-term returns. Should I buy Bordeaux or Burgundy, or both?

Ultimately, what someone does with their inheritance is their business. If they want to splash out on a case of Le Pin 1982 or even a whale tanker of rough-and-ready Vin de Pays, that’s their decision. But where I start to grow concerned is when that flight of fancy transforms into something more serious, such as an appeal for genuine financial advice.

Perhaps only a financial wonk such as me would pick up on the distinction between wine investment advice and pensions advice, but there we go. For safety’s sake, the mere mention of the words ‘pension’ and ‘wine investment’ must be approached with caution. In fact, anyone asked to advise on a scheme where the two could be combined is faced with a minefield. Better to retreat to safety than to risk a fatal misstep.

Sadly, this issue wasn’t addressed in Decanter’s response, in which the first two paragraphs were probably the most crucial:

Historically, fine wine has proved a lucrative investment over the long term, although it is subject to corrections like any other asset class. We’ve seen this with first-growth Bordeaux — the traditional investment staple — losing about 40% since mid-2011 while over the same period, top Burgundies gained about 10%.

My advice is to hedge your bets by diversifying, in two key ways. First, you are right to treat wine as a supplement rather than a primary investment. Wine is a useful addition to a wider portfolio thanks to its lack of correlation to more traditional asset classes, such as the stocks and bonds making up most pension funds.

The central issue I am highlighting here is that, in the highly regulated world of financial advice, fine wine is an unregulated asset class so symbolic of the wild frontier of the investment world that it has attracted disapproval from the Financial Conduct Authority. Ask your financial planner to include wine investment in your retirement funding arrangements and the answer will be simple: No. If professional advisers won’t touch it, then it’s probably a good idea that the amateur financial advisers not do it either.

This doesn’t mean wine investment is a bad thing. Nearly every wine enthusiast I know has bought at least a case or two for investment purposes over the years. But there is wine investment and then there is pensions investment. And my bone here is related specifically to the fact Decanter ignored the pensions aspect of this reader’s query and trundled straight on to the wine investment advice aspect. For my purposes, the most crucial part of Lister’s reply came in the first two paragraphs:

To her credit, Lister made clear that wine should be seen as a supplement to a portfolio rather than a primary investment. She also made sure to point out that fine wine, like any asset class, can fall in value as well as go up. But my gripe with the advice given is as follows:

  1. There was no statement at the outset that, above all, the reader should seek professional financial advice before making any major investment decision relating to inheritance and a pension (we don’t know how much money this person wants to invest, but there is some suggestion it is more than a few thousand pounds).
  2. Fine wine is touted as providing lucrative returns over the long term without any specific reference to actual performance figures.
  3. While the suggestion that fine wine has a “lack of correlation” to other asset classes is not necessarily incorrect and, indeed, there are no clear indicators for fine wine prices. There is, however, evidence to suggest wine is correlated with major global economic events, such as the 2008 global financial crisis or growth in the emerging markets. While it might not move in lock step with stocks and bonds, wine as a luxury product will be affected by the vagaries of the economy in one way or another, particularly during a recession or a decline in spending.

While Paul Lewis, host of BBC’s Moneybox, rightfully wrote that anyone can given financial advice, not just qualified financial advisers, there are times when it’s best left for the experts. I do not dispute the wine investment expertise that Decanter provided to this reader. I just believe that it should have been more careful given this person’s clear need for pensions advice.