The en primeur wine industry is full of magic, mystery and suspense, and if that’s not enough it’s also a good investment that doesn’t necessarily require wine expertise. If you are new to the field of buying wine futures, prepare to be pleasantly surprised in more ways than one.
En primeur, also called wine futures, is the early purchase of very young wine, hence the name, that hasn’t yet been bottled. It works like this: every spring, when the Primeur campaign opens, thousands of wine professionals visit the Bordeaux region, some come to taste and review, while others come to purchase or invest. More than 150 of the top Bordeaux estates welcome buyers, retailers, journalists and wine experts from all over the world to taste samples of the latest vintages on offer, and prices are set based on the feedback they receive. Wines are released for sale in a number of phases, and prices are adjusted along the way. While Bordeaux is the en primeur capital,the tradition has expanded over the years to include the markets of Burgundy, California, the Rhone Valley, Italy and Port.
Why Buy En Primeur?
If you know wines, you know that they can change significantly in the months between the en premier tastings and the bottling. However, this risk can be controlled by dealing only with established and reputable wine merchants, and the advantages of investing in wine futures are many.
Firstly, there is the price, en primeur wines are usually much lower in cost than they will be once released, making them a good investment. Then there is the opportunity, when you buy en primeur you are given the chance to buy wines that are high in demand and limited in quantity. These wines could easily become impossible to find on the market after they are bottled. Finally, there is the mystique, the excitement of buying something that hasn’t yet become the fullest and best version of itself.
Wine tastings are an exciting experience for wine enthusiasts. If you love the aroma of the old favourites and find yourself curious by the unexplored, if your pallet is fascinated by the complexity of the taste, you will no doubt enjoy a visit to a tasting room.
Sommeliers and other wine professionals have specialised wine tasting processes, but they are not the only ones who enjoy the ritual-like experience of discovering wines. Wine tasting rooms have a large informal following, and a set of less publicised guidelines. Even though recreational wine tasters take a less analytical approach, it is still important to stick to these rules.
What are the Rules?
The practice of wine tasting is as ancient as wine making and the conventions of tasting room etiquette have evolved through the ages. Nevertheless, a few unspoken rules and suggestions have stood the test of time, and here they are:
- Eat something – Don’t go to a wine tasting event on an empty stomach.
- Leave your preferences at home – You may have never enjoyed Pinot Noir, but go ahead and give it a go anyway, you may be pleasantly surprised when trying something unusual one day.
- Don’t wear a fragrance – Although you may be used to your scent, it can ruin the experience for everyone else within range.
- Don’t show off – Even if you are an expert, try not to talk too technically. You will be taking the fun out of the experience for those who are not as knowledgeable as you.
- Spit or swallow? – Believe it or not, it’s up to you. You can go ahead and swallow the wine you are tasting , it’s not all about getting educated, there should definitely be some fun involved. However, if you will be visiting several tasting rooms, moderate what you take in.
- Don’t request ‘the good stuff’ – That is rude, but feel free to express your opinion about the wines you’ve tasted, it will help your host understand what you should taste next.
- Linger meaningfully – Most wineries are happy to allow people to taste a wine again when they are considering a purchase, however, not when they are trying to get drunk.
- Make a purchase – Some wine tastings are free, and others waive the tasting fee in lieu of a minimum purchase. Depending on the circumstances, it would be polite to buy at least two or three bottles.
- Tips? – Tipping staff at a winery is entirely at your discretion. Even though tasting rooms may seem like bars, they are not. If a staff member was particularly attentive and it feels like the right thing to do, by all means, go ahead and give them a tip.