Wine investment

So, you picked your ancestors well, or you did well in the markets, or you bought the right lottery ticket. Now you ponder investing in wine for quick, easy money.

Deep breath. Unless you know exactly what you are doing—and if you learn anything from this week’s column, you don’t know exactly what you are doing—do not try this at home. The money will not be quick. It will not be easy.

Like all investments, success stories are embellished, failures forgotten. Still, wine stories can dazzle.

In 1982, you could buy a case of Chateau Lafite-Rothschild for $360. Today, that case is worth more than $36,000. If it still is drinking well in another 30 years, it could be worth more than $2 million.

Breathtaking, right? Here’s the fine print. You must pick the right wine and vintage. Then you must store it in perfect conditions and document everything: who you purchased it from (respected merchant who bought directly from winery is ideal), how it was stored, how it never left your site or sight. If provenance is not perfect, Sotheby’s says you immediately lose one-third of your value.

Don’t open the wooden crate. Don’t take bottle or two out to taste during decades that must pass to get to really big bucks. High dollar buyers want a whole case, in the original box.

If that seems like a lot of time and effort and risk, it is.

Enjoy the fantasy, but pulling cork on a good bottle you drink tonight is a much more secure method of wine appreciation.

Recommended (from, investment wine site):

• Abreau-Thorevilos Cabernet Sauvignon 2004. Sensational nose, fabulous fruit, near perfect. $4,680 (case)

• Mission Haut-Brion 2005. Bordeaux blend. Deeply red, very long finish. $6,000 (case)

• Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon 1997. Full-bodied, toasty oak, huge finish. $17,500 (single 1.5 liter bottle)