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Stunning photos has the world raising a toast to alcohol

Last updated on: July 17, 2013 11:31 IST

Stunning photos has the world raising a toast to alcohol

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From Spain to Taiwan, the taste for alcohol remains a constant, as these photographs show.

Investing in wine has more to do with emotion than cash, say experts. Although entering the market is not for the faint hearted, leaving personal taste can do wonders for the investor, they caution.

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Image: A woman smells a glass of red wine from Spain during a tasting session at Vinexpo Asia-Pacific in Hong Kong.
Photographs: Victor Fraile/Reuters
Tags: Taiwan , Spain

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When investing in wine, as opposed to drinking it, experts advise leaving your taste buds at the cellar door but keeping your eyes wide-open.

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Image: Wine bottles are displayed at Alimentaria trade show in Barcelona, Spain.
Photographs: Albert Gea/Reuters
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Wine is highly regulated, but the market it trades in is not, and the entry fee is not for the faint of heart.

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Image: Barrels of wine are stored in the cellar of Chateau Larose Trintaudon in Saint Laurent Medoc, near Bordeaux, southwestern France.
Photographs: Regis Duvignau/Reuters
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"For proper investment in wine you really need to separate out your personal taste and your personal preference from investment purposes," said Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan, author most recently of The One Minute Wine Master and Pairing with the Masters: A Definitive Guide to Food & Wine.

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Image: Visitors toast each other on a sunny day during Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany.
Photographs: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

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"These are two entirely different goals," said Simonetti-Bryan.

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Image: Reinaldo Lopez, Cuban sommelier, tastes a rum cocktail during the International Havana Club Cocktail Grand Prix at Havana's Hotel Nacional
Photographs: Claudia Daut/Reuters

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"Wine is completely emotional and that's what makes it very difficult as an asset class," said Simonetti-Bryan, who before attaining the top qualification of Master of Wine, worked as a financial analyst inLondon.

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Image: A man holds a glass of red wine from Spain during a tasting session at Vinexpo Asia-Pacific in Hong Kong.
Photographs: Victor Fraile/Reuters

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Collectible wine represents less than 1 per cent of the entire world's annual wine production.

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Image: Men drink beer at a restaurant in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Photographs: Kham/Reuters

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The other 99 per cent of this year's output will be up for tasting and sale at VinExpo, the industry's global trade show in Bordeaux, France.

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Image: A waitress serves one-litre beer mugs at Munich's Oktoberfest, Germany.
Photographs: Alexandra Winkler/Reuters

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But at least some of that top 1 per cent, the classified growths of prized Bordeaux, have already been sampled, rated and priced.

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Image: A customer poses for the camera with a pint of beer in a public house in Leeds, northern England.
Photographs: Nigel Roddis/Reuters
Tags: Bordeaux

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Investors "can do extraordinarily well, but only if you know what you're doing," said Charles Curtis, the former head of wines in New York and Hong Kong for Christie's auction house, who now advises winecollectors and investors.

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Image: A woman tastes red wine in the Millesima cellar in Bordeaux, southwestern France.
Photographs: Regis Duvignau/Reuters

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Curtis, like Simonnetti-Bryan, is one of 300 people in the world to hold the coveted Master of Wine title.

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Image: A waiter serves a glass of red wine from Spain during a tasting session at Vinexpo Asia-Pacific in Hong Kong.
Photographs: Victor Fraile/Reuters

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"To be successful in investing in any alternative asset - wine, jewellery, art - you have to have a passion for what you collect," said Curtis, whose clients range from those with small collections to those with "five (million dollar) to $10 million cellars."

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Image: A man downs alcohol during the annual Saint Anthony purification ceremony in the village of San Bartolome de los Pinares near Avila in Spain.
Photographs: Susana Vera/Reuters
Tags: Curtis

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Timing is also crucial. For example, take the price of a case of 1982 Lafite, the premiere cru Bordeaux.

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Image: A bartender at work in Shanghai, China.
Photographs: Guang Niu/Reuters
Tags: Bordeaux

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Its cost rose to about $64,000 in May 2011, only to fall to less than $40,000 in January 2012.

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Image: A visitor points to cocktail glasses inside a house constructed entirely of ice blocks as part of a promotion of a bank in Berlin, Germany.
Photographs: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters
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"The '82s began to flood the market last year because they were 30 years old and they're peaking," said Jennifer Williams-Bulkeley, who worked in London and managed a portfolio in which the assets were mostly stocks and bonds.

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Image: A visitor walks past an alcohol stand during the Tax Free World Association exhibition in Cannes, southeastern France.
Photographs: Eric Gaillard/Reuters

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She recently opened a Boston-based wine investment advisory service and applies a soupcon of statistics and a pinch of analytics, combined with knowledge of terroir to the investment portfolios of herwine clients.

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Image: A man looks at bottles of wine on display at the Vinitaly wine expo in Verona, Italy.
Photographs: Alessandro Garofalo/Reuters
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"If you're properly managing your wine portfolio, you know when to sell it," said Williams-Bulkeley.

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Image: Women in silhouette as they drink at a party in a bar in central London.
Photographs: Toby Melville/Reuters

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In addition to timing, wine must be stored correctly, shipped properly and have impeccable provenance to qualify as a viable investment.

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Image: A visitor walks past a wine display at Alimentaria trade show in Barcelona, Spain.
Photographs: Albert Gea/Reuters
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Questions about provenance are behind a lawsuit filed against celebrity Chef Charlie Trotter.

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Image: Glasses and bottles of Chateau Belcier red wine in a testing room in Saint Emilion, southwestern France.
Photographs: Regis Duvignau/Reuters

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Two New York collectors sued in Chicago's federal court, accusing Trotter of selling them a big bogus bottle of 1945 Burgundy for more than $46,000.

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Image: Bottles of Sauternes wine in the Millesima cellar in Bordeaux, southwestern France.
Photographs: Regis Duvignau/Reuters

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Some auction houses have also been sued for selling suspect wines.

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Image: Bottles of beer are displayed for sale at a store in Hong Kong's Sheung Wan district.
Photographs: Victor Fraile/Reuters
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Auctions generate most of the publicity, yet they represent a fairly small percentage of the roughly $4 billion fine wine market.

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Image: A barman pulls a pint of beer at a public house in Leeds, northern England.
Photographs: Nigel Roddis/Reuters
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So far this year, the auction houses of Acker, Merrall & Condit, Christie's, Hart Davis Hart, and Sotheby's have sold a little over $100 million worth of fine wine around the world.

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Image: A man picks up a bottle at an assembly line inside the Taiwan Beer factory in Jhunan, Miaoli County.
Photographs: Nicky Loh/Reuters

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While this spring's auction season still has a couple of auctions left and final totals are not in, it looks as though sales will be lower than the first half of last year, when sales totaled about $160 million.

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Image: Glasses of white wine are lined up for students to drink at the end of their evening butchery class at the Ginger Pig butchery shop in central London.
Photographs: Simon Newman/Reuters
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If you still want to get started investing in wine, you'll need to open your wallet wide. Curtis pegged the minimum needed to begin investing seriously in wine at about $100,000.

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Image: Bottles on display for a wine tasting at the Boschendal winery in Stellenbosch, about 80km southwest of Cape town, South Africa.
Photographs: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters
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Williams-Bulkeley's managed accounts begin at $250,000.

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Image: A worker prepares bottles of rose wine at the Domaine Saint Andre de Figuiere at La Londe Les Maures in Provence, France.
Photographs: Jean-Paul Pelissier/Reuters

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In the Europe and Asia, it is still possible for sophisticated investors to put money into wine funds for comparatively little - between $15,000 and $50,000.

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Image: Racegoers hold pints of Guinness on St Patrick's Day on the third day of the Cheltenham National Hunt Festival meeting in Gloucestershire, central England.
Photographs: Mike Finn-Kelcey/Reuters
Tags: Europe , Asia

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But the funds are not without risk. Some are suffering from liquidity problems and unrealistic valuations of their holdings.

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Image: Bottles of wine are stored in the cellar of Chateau Puyfromage in Lussac near Saint Emilion, southwestern France.
Photographs: Regis Duvignau/Reuters
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Last month, regulators in Luxembourg forced the wine fund Nobles Crus to suspend redemptions temporarily after the fund manager admitted it did not have enough cash on hand to meet redemption demands.

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Image: An exhibitor's lounge with wine bottles at the International Trade Fair Wines and Spirits in Duesseldorf, Germany.
Photographs: Ina Fassbender/Reuters

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Wines made from fruits besides grapes are usually named after the fruit from which they are produced (for example, pomegranate wine, apple wine and elderberry wine) and are generically called fruit wine, according to Wikipedia.


Image: Tourists drink local beer at a beach-side hotel in Suva, Fiji.
Photographs: Jason Reed/Reuters
Tags: Wikipedia

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