Here’s an email bulletin I received from Sam’s Wine and Spirits in Chicago yesterday. Founded in 1946, Sam’s is one of the best and most comprehensive wine stores in the country. So:

The Only Thing That’s Gone Up More Than Gas… the Price of Bordeaux

2005 Bordeaux Vintage Offers a Valuable Long-Term Investment!

With the uncertainty of the economy and the market of today, investors are looking to alternatives to stocks and bonds. The margaux-lafite-large-format.jpg answer to the market crisis may come from a particular entity that we may use to relief this stress—wine.

The 2005 Bordeaux Vintage wine has received such high reviews that demand for the wine continues to rise rapidly. Acclaimed wine writer/critic, Robert Parker describes the 2005 Bordeaux vintage as “the greatest vintage produced during my 30 year career.”

Yet, is all the hype really going to pay off in dollars and cents in the end? Although the 2005 Bordeaux guarantees superb quality and taste, many retailers are steadily increasing their prices to meet the high market demand. With these high prices, the 2005s will take up to 10 years to show value growth, but then should prove to be an amazing long term investment. The vintage wine has already appreciated over 300% from its birth in 2005.

Brian Rosen, President of Sam’s Wines and Spirits states “We heard the buzz from our customers so we responded by obtaining the largest inventory of 2005 Bordeaux in the country with over 5,000 cases to be delivered to our stores.” Brian also offers another worthwhile wine investment, “Since the buzz has been primarily focused on the 2005 Bordeaux, earlier vintage wines such as the 2004 Bordeaux will offer a great shorter term return.”

Notice what’s missing here: Not a mention of when the Bordeaux from 2005 will be ready to drink, just when they might be ready to sell. No mention of the qualities of Bordeaux red wines, their potential for nobility, grace and elegance. No indication that when the Bordeaux from 2005 reach maturity they will drink wonderfully with a beef crown roast or venison, that they will bring to your table a sense of history and geography and artisanship. No reference to the wine’s ability to bring friends and families together in a shared moment of great wining and dining (and all the Bordeaux of 2005 are not extravagantly expensive). No hint that the real investment is in pleasure and the satisfaction of drinking a magnificent bottle of wine.

Have the wines of Bordeaux from 2005 really “appreciated” 300 percent since their “birth” that year, or are merchants simply charging 300 percent more than they did when the wines were offered as futures? If you paid (or promised to pay) $300 a bottle for Pichon-Longueville (or whatever) two years ago, could you sell that bottle now for $900? I would say, Dream on.

And don’t forget that if you invest in wine, you have to take responsibility for proper storage: Constant 55 degrees, no vibration, humidity regulation and so on. Whether you have your own cellar, lucky you, or pay for storage in a well-maintained facility, keeping that wine safe and cool costs money, part of which goes to pay for the fuel that runs the refrigeration unit.

So, thanks, pal, for making the gasoline for my car more expensive, while you sit on your “investment” and wait to rake in the dough.

How many times do I have to say this? Whether it’s today, tomorrow or 10 or 20 years from now: Wine is to drink.

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