The World Wine Web

Published by Lee Talbot on 12/06/2017

When you think about the fine wine trade, you may have an image of a bunch of old men sitting around a table in a cavernous French chateau. With an eye-wateringly rare red wine sloshing around their glasses, they spend their days furiously discussing vintage variation, critic scores and prices, while deciding which of the wines from their seemingly endless cellar is the most valuable.

Well maybe not. That may have been how things were done before (or maybe that’s just how I used to imagine it), but modern day wine trading is a whole lot different. Having a hand in setting up our new fine wine trading website recently, and sitting on tenterhooks every morning for the past few weeks waiting for the furious flurry of emails about the latest en primeur releases, the whole process got me thinking about how integral the internet now is for anyone looking to buy fine wine.

Gone are the days of the traditional courtier, travelling to and fro from negociant to chateau by horse and carriage, carrying messages of prices and deals and facilitating agreements between the two parties. Now, everything is instantaneous.

If I want to find out the price of a particular wine I’m interested in buying, in a few clicks I can compare every merchant from here to Timbuktu, how much it costs, and even how much it used to cost - if I want to berate myself for not having bought it 6 months ago when it was a fraction of the price. I can even see if buying in a different currency would be more beneficial, which at the moment unfortunately is truer than I would like to admit.

So I know how much a wine costs, but is it any good? My knowledge of fine wine is strong, but unfortunately I wouldn’t be able to spout off the top of my head if the 1971 Branaire Ducru is going to be show-stoppingly brilliant and a wine to tell my kids about, or if it has gone the way of the dodo and would be more like drinking a bottle of vinegar that’s been left out in the sun too long.

No problem, a few clicks onto a critic’s website and I can tell you everything you need to know about it from its aromas, how it tastes, when you should drink it, if it has any ageing potential, how it compares to any other vintages of Branaire Ducru and whether I should look out for the 1975 instead.

You can sit back on the sofa with your feet up, and, prepared with your newly acquired wine and market expertise, order a case of fine claret from one of France’s most revered chateaux, safe in the knowledge you got a slap-up deal for it. The vintage is exceptional, it’s perfect to drink now (because you don’t have the patience to store it), and you can imagine yourself to be the Wolf of Bordeaux Street for a few hours.


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