Much good advice here. For me, I’ve been thinking a lot about average spend per bottle and have been tracking that steadily down for the better part of the last decade. And I think I’ve been drinking better. One of the fun elements of this hobby for me is the constant learning about new producers, regions, grapes and discovering tremendous values. That has been more of a focus for me than finding the highly allocated, high priced cherries (though of course I can’t resist a bit of that, too). This board is a fantastic place for discovering great values in the wine world.
€300 per month is certainly a healthy spend level that gives you a ton of flexibility. And it’s not too much if you can afford it! Spending is always about choices.
I work under the premise that there is ALWAYS someone with more money so don’t compare yourself to anyone other than you. The OPs budget is more than enough to drink world class wine and enjoy the hobby. And that is where the conversation can end.
In regards to myself, I am in the same boat as Todd (or car) in that my “other” hobby revolves around motor vehicles and is WAY more expensive than my wine habit. I’ve spent an entire years wine budget on a single engine overhaul.
I decided before I started with wine that my goal was enjoyment and sharing with friends/family, not to invest in a portfolio or add Instagram followers. While I have been sucked in to more than a few “trophies” (usually after trying from a generous friend, really liking the winemaker/vineyard story, or telling myself it for a future event/anniversary), I personally get more enjoyment out of discovering a riesling like prum, trying a new n/v champagne producer, or landing a hard-to-find magnum of cru Beaujolais than picking up a known triple-digit score wine. Some regions (Barolo/brunello, Napa, burgundy) still require you to pay the piper just to say hello. But my expectations are high if a wine is over $50 and I prefer to be pleasantly surprised than disappointed. Even if I have to kiss a few frogs along the way, I prefer this method of discovery to always “buying” my way to my next favorite wine.
Sometimes I wonder what my collection and wine exploration would look like if I spent 5 times more per bottle and cut my bottle count to 10-20% of what it is. That would probably make the most “financial sense” and I wouldn’t have my current storage problem, but to me it would be less fun.
Agree, kids & other factors have a major impact on spending. I’ll pass along my own experience as someone who’s just turned 50.
We had our kids during our mid to late 30’s. Before kids I thought I spent a lot on wine and did relative to income! Our kids were a young toddler and newborn during the Great Recession, my wife was breast feeding, not drinking; so was very easy to cut wine spending significantly. Since then life has been good, incomes have risen.
My point- As I’ve gotten older I spend more and more on wine, but it’s become a smaller percentage of income as incomes have risen. Depending on the stats, peak earning years are 35-55/40-60yrso. During these years most wine drinkers (higher than average earner) see good income growth.
Some younger drinkers may think they’ve already reached their wine spending Apex and it’s all down-hill once kids arrive, but I was pleasantly surprised that wasn’t the case for us.
(perhaps my wife not so pleasantly surprised…)
Those who are young and settled in their tastes (e.g., you either altogether avoided, or moved past, the “sign up for every hot CA mailing list” phase) should absolutely stretch their incomes to accumulate as much and as serious as possible. Think of it like your 401k. Your best ally in appreciation is time. The more you put in early the bigger the payoff. This is the only way to have mature wines with perfect provenance in your prime years. And they are still assets so you can always sell off excess if you need to raise cash. To say nothing about all the expenses of adulting competing for your attention as you get older.
My spending has gone up pretty substantially over the past few years, but thankfully so has my income, so wine is probably a smaller percentage of my income today than ever before.
I also have two kids (9yo and 7yo) in private school, and our travel budget is pretty obscene by any measure–and adding to that, we bought and remodeled a new house last year. So there have been lots of competing demands on my bank account.
I used to have a rough $XXX per month wine budget–a strategy that was honored in the breach. Now I’m far more irregular. I will spend a fair bit of $$$ when wines I love become available, and then go months without buying anything. I also find myself buying more 6-bottle lots, whereas I used to buy a lot more 2-3 bottle lots.
The biggest problem I’ve run into is something many of us have experienced: Burgundy pricing has become stupid, and allocations have dwindled. So there are a number of wines I love where I’m buying 1-2 bottles or nothing at all.
It feels like this is flawed logic. If you put $100 in the S&P in 2002 it would have appreciated to $496 today (over $600 a few months ago). Save a select few wines (blue chip burg, 1st growth bdx, etc…), those $100 bottles you bought in 2002 probably aren’t worth $500 today. When you account for the “off” vintages that barely appreciate at all, proper storage costs, and risk of loss…
You are most likely better off putting your money into equities and letting it compound for 20 years then buying back vintages that are ready to drink later in life. Even with a few bad provenance bottles, you’ll be money ahead.
Oh, don’t get me wrong, I find and buy plenty of wines that will be impossible to buy in 20 years, I also find and buy plenty of wine that will be readily available in 20 years. I just don’t lie to myself and say that it in a monetarily sound strategy. Its a hobby after all.
And that logic overlooks the human element, which is the fun and passion of accumulating the cellar. I generally do agree that backfilling makes a whole half of a lot of sense, but then again, about 40% of what I buy is Bordeaux, which is easy to backfill. Some of the premium Northern Rhônes that I drink, exceedingly difficult to backfill and at a very significant cost multiplier.
Very interesting thread. I am also 35 and spends around 200-300€ plus a bit on offsite storage. Collected for around six years now, but the interest already started while at University. Getting close to 600 bottles.
It is not a huge part of my income, but it is close to every penny i have left when the more important stuff has been paid at the moment. Mortgage on a city apartment, student loan, two smaller kids in daycare and a wife working a little less to make ends meet… in a few years i will have a very different budget to spend on hobbies. But i don’t hope i will spend more on wine.
I have also been very lucky to try a lot of wine i would never have been able to pay for myself. Has helped me define my taste. I also don’t have a big fascination with either Burgundy or high end Bordeaux which helps
I think you can safely say that almost all of us on WB spend way too much, exceed our budgets if we even have them, own way too many bottles, etc.
It’s a passion, and we enjoy not only drinking, but (if we’re being honest) the discovery, hunting and shopping as well. We’re Berserkers. It is what it is.
If it makes you happy, you aren’t developing alcoholism issues, and you aren’t digging yourself serious holes financially or in your relationships, then just embrace it and be happy. There’s way too much guilt and judgment around this stuff (and I experience that too myself).
My story isn’t terribly different from the rest of this board, I don’t think. At 41, I’ve been at it for a few years, typically in the $5,000 to $7,500 range. Then during the pandemic, we decided to put in a cellar, so my spend jumped significantly to about $20k to take advantage of the additional space and very attractive 2019 EP prices. Now that the cellar is mostly full, the spend is likely going to fall in the $7.5k - $10k range, but the average cost per bottle climbing higher. Regrettably, FOMO has won out a few times resulting in some trophy hunting, but stocking up on champagnes has been a bigger expense (and pleasure).
For better or worse, the enablers on this board have provided the confirmation bias I needed, proving that champagne is indeed a great daily drinker champagne. I’ve enjoyed looking around trying to find what I really like. Though, I enjoy variety a lot, so I’ll rarely have more than six bottles of an individual producer/vintage.
Well, sorta. It’s true that if you have the discipline and knowledge to put your extra cash in sound investments, then this will always give you a better long term cash return than putting it in wine. BUT! 1) As Max points out, this isn’t about maximizing cash, it’s about maximizing your supply of aged wine. No amount of cash can get you wines with provenance that lets you sleep as soundly at night as with wine you bought on release yourself. This is true no matter how reputable the auction house. 2) Show me the person who had the discipline to put their extra spending money in the S&P in their 20s. Show me!! This isn’t a contest between buying wine and responsible savings. It’s a contest between buying wine and blowing it on something even dumber. Call it the W.C. Fields rule: “I spent half my money on gambling, alcohol, and women. The other half I wasted.”
The only good thing about me not having more money 10-15 years ago is that I would have probably been a pretty big victim of the Premier Cru debacle, as I was a little late to realize that the house of cards was going to collapse.
I buy wine to drink with no intention of ever selling as an asset. I also don’t chase big name mailing lists or wines, always (almost) looking for value.
That said looking at my history on CT a) I’m not consistent in recording pricing, but b) after an initial “cellar building” phase of around $1k/month for 4-5 years, I have reigned it into ~$400/month, while my $/bottle figure has increased ~150%. Better (at least in concept) and fewer wines and actually a budget that makes more sense for us, though I have never “budgeted” for wine.
My caveat is always that I planted a vineyard in 2015 and daily drinkers by the 100’s each year that we’ve harvested are produced, consumed, and shared. I don’t track those in CT.