What is fine and rare wine? Everything you need to know

by Feb 12, 2020News0 comments

Dear reader and wine investor,

This is the first of a fine and rare wine series of articles.

Here, we will be discussing the different aspects of what makes a wine special, its origin, its grapes, its crafting and much more…

What is fine wine?

The concept of ‘Fine Wine’ is not an exact science.

There is not an absolute set of criteria that defines what it is, parameters and conditions that would determine whether a wine enters the fine wine category or not.

What makes a wine fine though is something we can look at and define quite accurately.

Learn about fine and rare wine in video

First of all, what makes a wine fine is its taste.

Cheap mass-produced wine doesn’t taste very good, it’s simple, it’s short, it’s sometimes austere or harsh.

Fine wine is balanced, it’s well constructed in its flavor profile, it’s complex, it’s long and lingering when you taste it. The essence of fine wine: it virtually tastes better than any other beverage.

This finesse has two origins:

  1. The quality of the terroir, of the vineyard that gives birth to the. Some vineyards have proven to be better than others. In France for example those would often be classified as Grand Cru or Premier Cru.

  2. The second parameter is the winemaking craft. How talented are the people who make the wine are, how much do they know, exactly, how to transform grapes into the best possible wine. This comes with time, as winemakers understand whether to use oak barrels or not, how to blend, etc.

Finally, fine wine will generally get finer with age. Age-worthiness is an important criterion that differentiates fine wine from ordinary wine.

Fine wine gets better with age.Fine wine gets better with age.

Fine wine gets better with age.


What Makes a Wine Rare?

As we’ve seen. Fine wine is not easy to make.

To be called fine wine, a bottle must be better than say 90% of all other wines. So fine wines are also quite rare, and therefore expensive.

What makes a wine rare is therefore the balance between a level of production and demand.

Let’s take some practical examples.

Most fine wines from top estates in Bordeaux are produced by the tens of thousands of bottles. Yet everyone knows them, they taste delicious and you can rely on their age-worthiness. Therefore, they are much more expensive than most wines produced elsewhere in similar quantities.

The best Grand Crus of Burgundy though, are only made by the thousands. Very exclusive productions from small vineyards. Yet they are also extremely reputable, taste fantastic and age superbly. Those can be some of the most expensive wines on Earth.

Similar configuration with some cult wines from the New World, California and Napa Valley for example. Think Screaming Eagle or Sine Qua Non for example.

The wines that we offer on the Alti Wine Exchange platform also fall into this category. Extremely fine wines, very rare and exclusive, and wines that will defy time with their quality. Wines you can invest on.

unnamed (3).jpgunnamed (3).jpg

A conclusion about Fine & Rare Wine

The world of fine and rare wine is therefore a complex and fascinating one, combining the laws of a traditional demand versus offer market, with the climatic conditions of every vintage and the skills of all actors in the industry, from production to marketing and distribution.

Fine and rare wine is the splendor of the world of wine.

What makes even more attractive, is the ongoing tension it comes, tension between storing the wine so it betters with age, so it increases in value also sometimes, and the desire to open the bottle and enjoy it. Both sides of the tension the Alti Wine Exchange allows you to satisfy by the way. Keep it or drink it. It’s your choice.

Fine & rare wine is an asset, but it’s also absolute enjoyment for those who can appreciate it, and it’s on-demand unforgettable memories you can create from your living room and share with others. It’s an act of generosity too.

One last important point I will leave you with. Every bottle of fine wine in any given vintage only gets rarer and rarer with time, as it is the unique expression of a place in a singular year, that will never be recreated.


Julien Miquel

Chief Wine Officer at the Alti Wine Exchange



Explore More from Our Blog

Alti Wine Exchange Indexes: 2022 overview and outlook for 2023

Sergey Glekov Senior financial analyst The Alti Wine Exchange Indexes are a family of equal weighted indexes which trace price performance of fine and rare wines and shows equal weighted average returns on them. The indexes are subdivided by most important wine...

Alti Wine Exchange Indexes: 2021 overview and trends for 2022

Sergey Glekov Senior financial analyst The Alti Wine Exchange Indexes are a family of equal weighted indexes which trace price performance of fine and rare wines and shows equal weighted average returns on them. The indexes are subdivided by most important wine...

They have created the perfect storm for controlled demolition of money

I’m glad to be back talking financial insights, one glass of wine at a time. First they shut down the economy, to save lives. With the closure of the economy, production ceased. To compensate for non-production or reduced production, people were paid not to lose...

Spanish Cava Sparkling Wine: What You Need to Know!

Spanish Cava Sparkling Wine: What You Need to Know!

What is a Port Wine?

DEAR READER, Let’s start February off with a simple question: Good morning, Mr. Ferdinand, What is a Port wine? -Jacques Thank you, Jacques, for your brevity. Let’s get down to business! Ports are an underrated, very particular type of wine made in the Douro Valley,...

What to Expect for Fine Wine Investments in 2022

Let’s face it, between an ongoing COVID pandemic, erratic markets, fires, floods and major humanitarian crises, 2021 was exhausting. And though none of us can be sure what to make of 2022, we can say with confidence that fine and rare wine investments are looking...

Holiday Gift Guide for Fine Wine

It’s that time of year again! And so begins the search for the perfect holiday gift. Something unique, something that shows you truly care. How about a gift that keeps on giving? An investment. Imagine their surprise when you tell them that their gift is resting...


DEAR READER, As I grow immensely in popularity, I’ve noticed more of you interested in my personal life. I didn’t begin e-blogging with this in mind, but I don’t mind indulging every now and then. I imagine my intellect intimidates a lot of you, so maybe shedding some...

The Truth about Fine Wine

Fine wine. What does that really mean? The truth is, as words, they don’t mean much. There is no official classification system for the title “fine wine.” It’s not like the regulated usage of “Premier Cru” or “Grand Cru Classé,” for example, rather anyone can throw it...

Maipo Valley Reds

DEAR READER, I am again-and-again charmed by my readers’ curiosity! It reminds me of being a young sommelier, ready to take on the world one glass at a time. I know far too much to feel that way again—but at least I can experience a shred of it through you all! Dear...

Liquid Harmony

Harmony. Think Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Think Picasso's The Old Guitarist. It’s that moment when various elements come together to create magic. And magic really is the word, no? Wine can also sip in harmony, and I can think of no better example than the...

Where Does the Phrase “Aging Like Fine Wine” Originate?

DEAR READER, I received this charming question from an inquisitive reader last week. Dear Sommelier Ferdinand, Where does the phrase “aging like fine wine” originate? It’s so fun! -Imani I just love your question! What a lively spirit you have, Imani! I’m more of a...