Purchasing Wine Futures: What Makes a Good Investment?


If you plan on purchasing wine futures, it’s important to know which regions, producers, and labels are the most investment-worthy.

Purchasing wine futures is something many investors are interested in, and for good reason. You can buy popular wines in advance (long before they are bottled and reach the market) and often at the lowest possible price. Futures are the bedrock of many successful wine investment portfolios. 

However, if you’ve never purchased wine futures before, you may be wondering how the process works, and in particular, where to find the most investment-worthy futures on the market. 

How Purchasing Wine Futures Works 

Purchasing wine futures can be just as simple as buying wine after it’s already on the market. Here’s how the process usually works

  1. Shop for wine futures and pre-arrivals online. The best retailers will have an option to filter your search so you’re only shown wines that are available to buy before they’ve officially been released on the market. Using a trusted retailer that has been in the business for decades can be a major benefit to investors because they get access to the most desirable wine futures and often have more wines in stock compared to less experienced retailers. 
  2. Order your wine. Once you order the number of bottles you want, you’ll receive confirmation from the retailer. The retailer may also provide you with an estimated shipping window. It’s often too early to say exactly when the wine will ship at this stage, especially if it’s a true wine future and not a pre-arrival. Generally, you can expect your wine to ship about two years after ordering it. 
  3. When the wine has been bottled and is ready to ship, the retailer will send it to your preferred location. Some investors use their home cellars, but the majority of investors send the wine to a secure, professional storage warehouse instead, ideally one managed by the retailer. There are three benefits to this:
  1. Your wine will age under perfect conditions, so you can sell it at a higher price later. 
  2. You can prove the provenance (a trail of paperwork showing your wine is authentic) much more easily when you’ve kept the wine under lock and key the moment it left the winery. 
  3. You can avoid paying unnecessary import taxes on your wine if you keep it in a storage warehouse outside of your home country. After all, if you don’t plan on drinking your wine, there’s no reason to have it shipped directly to you.

What Are Investment-Worthy Wine Futures?

A wine future is any wine sold before it’s been bottled and released on the market. Most of the time, these wines are sold while they’re still aging in the barrel. When you purchase wine futures, you’re buying wine at the earliest possible stage, long before other investors can get their hands on the most popular bottles. Some wines are also released as a pre-arrival, meaning they’ve already been bottled, but haven’t yet shipped to the wider market. 

Investors interested in purchasing wine futures usually have one question: Is this wine a good investment? It can be a difficult question to answer since there’s no guarantee that you’ll always turn a profit when you buy wine as a future and resell it years later, as with any investment. Fine wine can be a good investment, provided you know which wines are likely to gain in value. Most experts estimate that only about 1 percent of all wines produced globally are worth investing in with the goal of turning a profit. And of these rare wines, only a handful are currently available as wine futures. 

Luckily, you don’t have to guess which wines fall under this category. Year after year, there are certain wines that are consistently released as futures or pre-arrivals, have historically performed well over time, and are in high demand among collectors. They include: 

  • Red and white Bordeaux: This is traditionally the only type of wine that’s released in large quantities as a “true” future. 
  • Red and white Burgundy: Technically, Burgundy is not released as a future, but instead is considered a pre-arrival because the wines have usually already been bottled when they go on sale. Still, many investors buy these wines as pre-arrivals to secure the rarest labels before they sell out. 
  • Cult wines from California: There are currently only a limited number of wines being released as futures every year, so many investors find these types of futures more difficult to buy than Bordeaux. 

Futures and pre-arrivals are also occasionally available for Super Tuscans from Italy, wines from the Rhône Valley of France, and vintage Port

If you’re looking into purchasing wine futures soon, here are a few specific wines you might consider: 

The Best Bordeaux Futures 

By far the most popular wine futures are those from the Bordeaux region of France. Every spring, Bordeaux hosts en primeur week, inviting critics and industry professionals to taste the latest vintage directly from the barrel. Shortly after this event, Bordeaux producers put futures of their wines up for sale. The top wines of the vintage typically sell out quickly, which is why it’s important to secure your investments as soon as futures are released (this usually happens every June). However, you can continue to find futures of the latest vintage many months, and sometimes as long as a year or more, after they were first announced. 

One way to tell whether a Bordeaux future is worth buying is to look at average critic scores. The top wines will have a score of 96 or more points, and these wines will almost always be made to age for 15 or more years before reaching peak maturity. Most investors buy Bordeaux futures immediately upon release then wait at least a decade to resell their wine—this is the sweet spot when the wine still has some aging potential ahead of it but has also increased in value since release. 

If you’re looking into purchasing wine futures now, here are a few top quality Bordeaux labels that are currently available:

The Best Burgundy Pre-Arrivals

Although Burgundy isn’t technically sold as a future, investors should still consider buying pre-arrivals of these wines, especially rare labels that tend to sell out quickly. Like Bordeaux, Burgundy is famous for producing some of the finest wines in the world, and some of these labels, such as those from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, are known for being among the most valuable wines on the market. If you’re purchasing wine futures or pre-arrivals for the first time, building a portfolio of both red and white Burgundy and Bordeaux is the simplest way to diversify your portfolio, which will give you the best chance to turn a profit later. 

Here are a few Burgundy pre-arrivals worth considering right now: 

There are many other wines available on the fine wine market, however, these two regions are great places for investors to start if they’re interested in purchasing wine futures or pre-arrivals for the first time. They’re the most reliable and there are often many different labels to choose from each year.  

Why Wine Futures Are Popular 

Investors are attracted to wine futures because they tend to be a more stable investment than other types of assets. For example, in 2022, fine wine outperformed gold assets, which is especially notable considering gold is known for being a relatively stable investment. Like gold, fine wine historically increases in value over time at a slow and steady rate. Generally, you won’t see massive returns over a short period of time like you would with riskier assets. This is a characteristic many investors appreciate about fine wine. Wine has been a popular luxury good for many centuries, and the love for fine wine among collectors and connoisseurs will likely continue well into the future. Fine wine is here to stay, and investors have learned to rely on its solid reputation and predictability. 

In the chart below, you can see how well fine wine assets have performed historically compared to other types of investments:

wine assets have performed historically compared to other types of investments

Purchasing wine futures isn’t as complicated as beginner investors might think. In fact, when done correctly, this is a very hands-off investment approach. You simply buy the wine and wait patiently for it to ship, then allow the wine to age slowly over time in a secure storage facility. 

The process is even more seamless when you invest in wines from the right retailer. The most experienced sellers will offer you specific advice on how to expand your wine collection, and you can use this advice to build a diverse portfolio of the highest-quality wines in the world.

Whether you are starting your high-end wine collection or adding to an established portfolio, Vinfolio is your partner in buying, selling, and professional storage. Contact us today to get access to the world’s finest wine.

Author: Vinfolio Staff

At Vinfolio, we help our clients buy, sell, store, and manage their most
treasured bottles of wine. But in our spare time, we’re just a group of
passionate and slightly obsessed oenophiles–we love sharing a great
glass of vintage Champagne, followed by a Burgundy, and then a
Bordeaux, to get things started. We’re always obsessing over the latest (and oldest) vintages, and we want to share that knowledge and passion with our readers.