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Overenthusiastic buying; problem or blessing?


#1

Inspired by rather a large number of comments recently along the lines of “I’ve spent far too much on wine this year” I thought it might make an interesting topic for discussion.

I think there is a great danger when participating in forums like this that are inevitably geared to a certain amount of purchasing. I’ve been a member of a book reading forum for many years and without any doubt it has increased my reading significantly. And, as I mostly buy rather than borrow, it has also increased the number of books I buy (around 70 a year). This is, I think, a good thing, but it still amounts to quite a large annual expense.

Being a member of a wine drinking forum can inevitably have similar consequences except many/most wines cost a lot more than most books, are consumed faster and don’t really lend themselves to the library loan approach!

I have definitely ‘suffered’ from a touch of overenthusiastic buying since joining the community but at the same time I’ve discovered lots (and I do mean lots) of fantastic new (to me) wines. I have now, I think, mastered that over-enthusiasm, but at the same time it has served a useful purpose establishing a solid pipeline of aging wines that I didn’t have before!

My point really is that forums like this can result in a slightly obsessive approach to buying. We hear about all the fantastic wines everyone is trying and we want to try them all. Obviously not realistic and probably much easier to manage for the more experienced wine drinkers with a more developed sense of what they do or don’t like.

When I joined TWS in 2016 I didn’t really keep anything more than maybe a dozen bottles in the house and didn’t really get into heavier buying until I joined the forum in 2018. Over a year later and I have around £5000 of wine in my cabinet (also a new acquisition) and racks and a further £1600 outstanding on EP. Not, for me, a sustainable rate of buying but, more recently, I have managed to become more circumspect about my buying; with a bit of a cellar established I am buying significantly less.

So I’m now quite content with my buying though it definitely was beginning to get a touch out of hand at one point. Interestingly I do not appear to have increased my consumption in the slightest alongside these buying habits. I’ve always said on these pages that I seem to drink approximately one bottle a week and having recently been reviewing my buying and drinking (hence this topic) I notice that in just over three years (since I joined TWS) I have drunk exactly 155 bottles which is pretty consistent with my earlier estimate.

So all the fantastic advice I’ve received since I joined the community has been a great if double-edged sword requiring a little self-discipline.

Just curious how others have found this aspect of things.


#2

For me it is the En Primeur offers that get me. I don’t see people recommending wines and feel the temptation to buy them but En Primeur almost doesn’t feel like I am buying wine and I definitely more inclined to spend around £100 a bottle buying En Primeur than I ever would be standing in a wine shop looking at the bottle on the shelf. I don’t know the reason I subconsciously justify this to myself but I guess it is around the sharing a special bottle with my children when I am older and the En Primeur leads itself more to wines for ageing.

In terms of the random bottles I know already that the wine society has a restriction which impacts me which means that I don’t get too concerned with what people are drinking at the moment. I live in Jersey and we only get 2 deliveries a year so I generally buy 2 reasonably large orders one for the summer and one for the winter and so in between these times if I want to buy a bottle I buy it locally or use up the stock I have in the house already.

I am not great at spending money in general for example I want an electric car (and can afford one) but continue to drive my old diesel because I don’t ‘need’ a new car and I do other frugal things such overpay my mortgage every month - but wine for the future is definitely one indulgence I allow myself.


#3

Yes I have to really watch myself on EP offers because, for the most part, you have to buy 6 bottles of the same wine and at my rate of drinking just 9 different wines will make up my annual consumption.

I figure now that I must skip even marginal vintages and only buy EP when the expectation is for an excellent vintage.

I know mixed cases are available but of the wines I seem to want only one or two tend to appear in the mixed cases.

It’s such a shame I can’t buy EP cases of six made up of three different wines. That would be just perfect for me. I guess what I need are a couple of friends with almost identical tastes to me! :wink:


#4

It’s a problem :laughing:

Though past buying might certainly be considered a blessing at this particular moment, when the Brexit disaster is making so many of the wines we used to drink unaffordable (and will do the same with many more),


#5

I can’t even get the mixed cases because of the shipping to Jersey and the related duty/VAT implications. I has to be 6 bottle cases at a minimum.

I will be in Liverpool for Xmas though so that will mean I can actually buy single bottles for the Xmas dinner which will be a nice novelty for me.


#6

Or failing that a different wine merchant who sell EP by the bottle… I have not bought TWS EP since Barolo 2015 and will probably just stick to 1-2 Pataille wines EP (from TWS) going forward (save for wines offered in 1-3 bottle cases)… This of course after 3 years of over enthusiastic buying…


#7

I think that you describe perfectly the various stages that most of us go through, as we develop new interests (or even relationships?).

Like you, initially I wanted to try everything but over time, I have become more selective and graduated to somewhat of a ‘less is more’ approach to wines and books, amongst other things. Whether this is a natural stage of the ageing process, I don’t know but I am certainly happier for it, as are both my bank manager and my wife!


#8

I echo this observation too!

I only joined TWS in February 2018, but by then I was already buying wine regularly from local merchants, Majestic and sometimes supermarkets, and building up a (very small) collection. So joining TWS - and the forum - coincided with a rise in spending on wine anyway; for the past 6 years I’ve been trying various regions, styles and producers, slowly homing-in on those I really like, with the consequence that I now spend less and less on wines I realise I am not interested in.

There is no doubt that my wine spending has gone up quite significantly with the help of this forum - but, it certainly stabilised now (same as @MikeFranklin) , and I am not prone to want to participate in every offer (EP or otherwise) - not only because I simply can’t afford everything that comes my way (not to mention lack of capacity to store it)- more a case of learning to be much more selective in what I buy these days.

Recommendations on this forum, needless to say, are some of the most valuable tips I follow! :grinning:


#9

Yes I think you’re right about most new activities we engage in or even existing ones given a new impetus by something like joining a club/forum etc.; initial burst of, shall we say, a little excessive enthusiasm that, hopefully, later settles into more measure participation.

I definitely felt I was getting a little carried away early on and finding it quite hard to resist but I’m now feeling more comfortable with a more ‘measured participation.’

I had never tried Moulis, Gigondas, Cote-Rotie or any Lebanese wines and these are now amongst my favourites. There are many more discoveries since I joined the community but these are the standouts.


#10

My developed taste is that I like everything, so no help whatsoever :smile:


#11

No discernible increase since I joined the Forum about 18 months ago…

I say discernible, because without looking at each amount in order history in detail, I know that some are me buying wine for club dinners, charity winetastings etc for which I get reimbursed, some others are paying duty and VAT on wines bought en primeur some years before etc.

Looking back to 2009, my peak years were 2011-2013, which included buying a fair bit of Bordeaux, Rhone and Burgundy en primeur from 2009 to 2012 vintages.

Last year looks quite high, but includes paying a fair bit of duty and VAT and also a couple of big reimbursable purchases, so wine that I didn’t drink beyond the odd glass or two.

Much will depend on what stage you are at in building a cellar, I have been pretty steady at 350-400 bottles for some time according to Cellartracker (there are some that don’t make it on there!). I also buy more wine proportionately from the WS than I did a decade ago.

En primeur purchases have definitely reduced since the 2015 vintage, which reflects a fullish cellar, the longevity of the wines and me, and probably not wanting to commit to 12 bottle cases of a single wine. My preference has been to buy smaller quantities of more mature wines more recently, or wines with a more immediate drinking window, often from different parts of the world.

I have also stopped buying some wine on expense grounds. Not because I couldn’t afford to (in some but not all cases!) , but because I refuse to pay the disproportionate and even obscene prices being asked…may they choke a few oligarchs instead!

As noted above already, there is maybe a case for a splurge right now with all the Brexit self inflicted wounds and other nonsense which might happen. Who knows who will try to get their hands on my money next, or indeed what it will be worth ! My wine is maybe a better store of value?


#12

Very good, surely it goes through phases though?


#13

Yes I get this. I can accept reasonable price rises but when a wine I like hikes their price by 25% or more from one year to the next I will, on principle, drop my buying from a case to a bottle or two if any.

I do understand how tough it can be for the growers and a couple that have had those sort of price rises recently did lose their entire crop to hail the previous year which must be devastating for them financially.


#14

That I can accept, provided that over time the pricing policy is fair. I can also factor in the weakening of the Great British Peso. What I won’t accept is continual egregious price increases, or in the case of whisky, all this market segmentation and brand differentiation of the same malt with different cask finishes, a fancier bottle or a new name at 50% higher price!


#15

The forum has been great for me in highlighting wines that I would never have tried before. However my main problem is the emails from merchants. So far today I have received an email from 5 different merchants I have used - all with offers which are very tempting!!

In addition to that, there are a few instagram accounts, of people who also love their wines, that I look at intermittently and that has resulted in a purchase or two. So basically I blame the internet (and my weak willpower)!! However just like Mike, this hasn’t resulted in me drinking more - infact I drink less now to try and stop me putting on weight.


#16

I probably drink less now than 10-20 years ago, however, in the one time I did the dry January, I actually put on a little weight! I prefer the two or three dry days a week approach now…occasionally one or four, depends what’s on!

Going off topic though…back to the main topic, I probably buy more wine ‘in the middle’ price range now, as opposed to less than £8 or more than £25 a bottle.


#17

Given now that I have to be more careful with money, I tend to buy wine in the £10- £25 bracket. It would have to be a really special reason to pay more than £25. The more expensive it is, the more disappointed I am if I feel its not worth it.


#18

That’s another interesting one. My average spend has definitely increased but not too horrendously. I tend to buy a few wines at prices I would previously not paid (I have some Brane Cantenac EP at £65 duty paid which will probably be my most expensive bottles) but at the same time this forum has led me to one or two very low priced gems.

Overall my average for the last 3 years wine that I’ve drunk is £13.63 and the average for the wine I’ve laid down is just over £20. But as I’ve been building up my cellar and it tends to be the more expensive wines I’m laying down. I think that’s pretty acceptable.


#19

I also spend almost entirely in that mid bracket now. This is because I just don’t find anything under £10 (probably going on 12 or 13 - or 15? - thanks to brexit) interesting, and because I already have too much £20 plus wine that I rarely find the occasion to drink.


#20

How about ‘dinner’?