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Why get involved with Fine Wine Services– from a newbie
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Why get involved with Fine Wine Services– from a newbie

I am very new to the wine industry. Admittedly, I am in the junior category of Tanners employees. Maybe there is an untapped niche market for ‘L Plates’ for those fresh-faced at work. Or maybe we’d just end up looking like a very unusual hen party - best scrap that idea.

Before I joined Tanners, I had an interest in wine and spirits. Undeniably, I had a great interest in drinking them too. But there was a fascination in the stories behind things; what makes a bottle of wine or whisky ‘special’, what can you unearth about a particular Château or distillery? What food/dishes can this bottle pair with? My love of whisky (previous blogs are freely available or pending) has translated into a never-ending curiosity about the sense of place, and place amongst history. Each wine & spirit tells a story and in drinking them, they become part of ours.

Tanners has always been a part of my life in some capacity, but until I started working here, it was mainly just as a curious bystander who felt rather overwhelmed and unsure whether to step inside. Like most historic wine merchants, the beautiful yet somewhat foreboding buildings become (unnecessarily) part of the ‘look but don’t touch’ league especially when you start thinking about Fine Wine Services. What is Fine Wine Services? In summary, it comprises a team within Tanners who offer advice related to buying, selling or storing fine wine & spirits, all suited to individual requirements and preferences.

As I have learnt from personal experience, the foreboding character is soon dismissed. And I hope to dissolve any preconceptions about the Fine Wine Services at Tanners. I had always assumed that wanting to ‘invest’ in wine was a costly activity and I’m sure for some people it is. The term ‘Fine Wine’ can conjure images of grand vintages, top châteaux and a bit of aesthetic dust sprinkled over for good measure. There are undoubtedly some truly stunning fine wines available for purchase – and consumption – some of which come with equally stunning price tags, but it doesn’t have to be the case for everyone wanting to buy a bottle purely because it’s special to them. Investment can feel like an uncomfortable word at times, shrouded in connotations of money and business and while for some ‘investing’ may be centred around wine that will increase in value to sell later, for others an ‘investment’ could be for personal consumption in the future - an investment of time knowing that your future self will have bottles to look forward to. Yes, money is involved in this approach to investment, but it doesn’t have to be the driving force. I’m sure some of you may agree that investing can be driven by a passion for something, including a love of wine & whisky.

Given that this is a blog (by a newbie), I am somewhat restricted to how much I can enthuse about my experience with Tanners Fine Wine Services (I can hear the Directors now ‘Amy, you’re writing a blog, not a book’). So, I shall dip into the areas that I’ve invested in; En Primeur, Cellar Planning and storage.

Since starting at Tanners, I realised that accessing Fine Wine Services didn’t have to be an exclusive ‘club’ that needed pots of money. If you just want to start a soft and gradual approach to building up a collection over many years then such a venture doesn’t have to be uber expensive and bulk purchases aren’t necessary either. The Fine Wine Team are experts for a reason and they’re here to help, advise, and work to your preferences of style, taste and of course, budget whether you just want a single bottle to squirrel away; a case to mature over many decades; or they can offer suggestions if you just don’t know where to start.

That was my dilemma. I didn’t know where to start, just that I wanted to build up my very own collection over a long period. I like wine, I like drinking wine and I’m pretty sure my future self will thank me down the line for building up a little cellar of my own. My approach to parting with my hard-earned cash has been geared at building a collection that I can enjoy in the future or on significant occasions…the big 3-0 is approaching next year. My idea of adding bottles here and there has been centred around styles and grape varieties that I know I enjoy. If you’re thinking about building your collection, then this can be a good place to start. One day, I plucked up the courage and asked the Head of Private Client Sales to help me. And that’s all it needs to be; a relaxed conversation in person or over the phone. It was refreshing to feel that my vision for building up a collection was thoroughly listened to, and it was even more surprising to understand that there were bottles at very accessible prices that fit my brief.

Cellar Planning

Sadly, my house doesn’t come fully equipped with its own cellar. If yours does, then you’re very lucky (any room for a little one’s collection?). With my purchases, I didn’t want to store them at home because I wanted to know that they were tucked away safe and sound. That is one of the brilliant features of Tanners, any bottles purchased directly can be stored safely in our bespoke reserve areas, with the freedom to take the bottles out of storage when you want them. There is a small fee attached, and you have to take the bottles out how they went in eg if you added a case in then you have to take the whole case out, but I believe the knowledge that your beloved bottles are being looked after properly, in the correct conditions, far outweighs the minor charge per bottle. I have a deep penchant for Bordeaux red wines. My technical and professional knowledge has grown since I started working in this industry, but I am by no means a Fine Wine expert and am still very much in need of my ‘L’ plates when it comes to navigating the Châteaux and vintages. As a result, I have sought a lot of advice about bottles that suit my preferences and budget (payday always helps). So, whether it’s been a £50 purchase for one or perhaps just pushing the boundary of £100 for six, my collection has always stayed within an accessible price range, whilst simultaneously acquiring quality wines. My cellar planning approach has involved purchasing wines that have some age already and will suit upcoming celebrations (hello Thirty). Let's be honest, some celebrations are worthy of bottles with a little more significance and if we’re getting older then why not celebrate with something age-appropriate? But it has also included younger wines that need time to lie down and mature a little. I could do with a lie down actually, but let's ignore the maturation, I’ve already mentioned a certain birthday enough in this blog! The Tanners Oddments List that is available in print and online makes wonderful reading, even for Fine Wine newcomers. I remember seeing my first ever copy and thinking ‘what on earth is this?’. It showcases our rare and fine bottles available for purchase across all styles, vintages and bottle sizes. I invite you to look if you haven’t already because it will demonstrate that not everything comes with hefty price tags.

En Primeur

One of the most valuable ways to start building a wine collection is through en primeur, which falls into the bracket of cellar planning. The full low-down can be found here. But in a nutshell, it is a wine that hasn’t yet been shipped to the UK – or even been bottled – and will later make its debut in the UK ready for storage or consumption.

So why is en primeur a valuable route? Firstly, the wine is paid for at the point of purchase, and then the duty and VAT are paid at a future point which helps manage costs. The en primeur price will always equate to the lowest price that you can pay for that particular wine. Buying wines this way also provides a broader range of bottle and case sizes which provides greater flexibility and variability for a budding cellar creator. You may well be tempted by a case of half bottles or become the proud owner of an Imperial (containing the equivalent of 8 bottles).
The ‘calendar’ of en primeur is also useful because of the gradual rollout of country or region-specific campaigns; the staggered release of wines provides a more accessible approach to buying wines; too much choice isn’t always a good thing after all.

For those of you who may not have peeked into the Tanners en primeur offers online, then I’d like to encourage you to, even if it’s a whistle-stop tour to see what’s on offer. You’ll be surprised and delighted to see that the recent Germany 2022 and Burgundy 2022 campaigns saw cases of 6 from top producers being offered at under £100. What a great way to build a collection! From my experience, and conversations with the Fine Wine Team you’ll feel assured that quality and value are driving forces behind the en primeur offering.

If you have made it to the very end of this blog, then I wholeheartedly thank you. Whilst this has in no way meant to come across as a selfish indulgence into my own (little) cellar, I hope that it has reassured you that Fine Wine Services aren’t ‘exclusive’ or inaccessible to those without the big bucks. Whether it’s an introductory meeting or a call to explore your vision for building your collection of wines and spirits, you can feel assured that the Tanners Fine Wine Services are here to help you and work with your budget and your preferences.

You never know, perhaps our wines will be sharing a shelf in storage one day!



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