Wine collecting has been hugely impacted by the digital age. It's no longer just for rich male snobs One needn't look any further than the nearest laptop, PC or tablet to figure out the main driver behind fine and vintage wine's seeming meteoric rise as a hot category of collectible.
News-Antique.com - Mar 24,2016 - One needn't look any further than the nearest laptop, PC or tablet to figure out the main driver behind fine and vintage wine's seeming meteoric rise as a hot category of collectible. The digital revolution – and, more to the point, the internet and information age – have catapulted wine collecting from a pastime once reserved for rich male snobs to persons of every conceivable stripe. And it's worldwide.
Starting in the early-to-mid 1990s, websites sprang up dedicated to fine wines, rare wines and the auction houses that sold them. Then, bidding platforms came into vogue – now-established entities such as LiveAuctioneers.com, Invaluable.com (formerly Artfact.com), iCollector and others made finding collectible wines at auction easier and more accessible. Researching wines also got simpler.
Then there was Barnebys.com – the Swedish-based auction aggregator that was started in 2011, quickly spread throughout Europe and Scandinavia and recently launched in the United States. Barnebys isn't a bidding platform; buyers go there to find what they're looking for and are directed to the auction houses listing with Barnebys that are featuring those items. One of their fastest rising categories is fine wines.
All these things have produced a seismic shift in the field, making wine collecting as we knew it from 20 years ago unrecognizable today. “For the most part, the old stereotype of the wine snob is a thing of the past,” said Jeff Zacharia, president of Zachys Wine Auctions in New York. “What we've seen is a democratization of the wine collecting world – more young collectors, more international collectors.”
“Back then, it was an older, male-dominated category, mostly affluent people in larger Western cities,” added John Kapon, CEO of Acker Merrall & Condit in New York. “Now, due to many influences and advancements worldwide, wine collecting has spread to almost every continent. Collectors today, on average, are much younger than 20-30 years ago. Asia and South America especially have emerged.”
Michael J. Moser, a specialist in the Fine Wines Department at Skinner's in Boston, said the base of bidders has become broader - “younger, less skewed toward academia and more female.” Marc Smoler, Marketing Manager of Hart Davis Hart in Chicago, said there really is no wine collector stereotype today. “They come from a myriad of backgrounds, with one thing in common: their passion for wine.”
Computers have been the driving force behind the changes. “The digital age has surely contributed to the rise in wine collecting,” Zacharia said. “Information is more accessible to wine drinkers, so more and more people are being attracted to the fine wine world. Also, wine apps like Delectable, and social media like Instagram, have made the social media aspect of fine wine collecting very common as well.”
But not so fast, says Kapon. “Passion doesn't occur just via pixels and digital. It happens when people around the world taste and experience the greatest wines anywhere, and so they become excited about wine and want to learn more and own more.” Doug Davidson of Bonhams' Fine