Fine Wines < Helpful Hints < Wine Expert | Online Wine Store | WSJwine

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What's the definition of "fine wine?"

Generally, this term is reserved for exceptional wines from the world's best vineyards, the highest quality grapes and the most acclaimed winemakers. Over a period of years, they've achieved 'blue chip' status — Grand Cru clarets and Burgundies are classic examples. Due to demand, such wines can command anything from around $50 to $200 or more a bottle.

Are they worth it?

It's a bit like asking a car enthusiast if a Ferrari is worth the money (if you see it just as a means of getting from A to B the answer is probably no). If wine is just a drink like any other, then perhaps no. But if wine is a genuine interest and if your enjoyment of it encourages you to experience greater, more complex, richer and satisfying bottles, then this is an area you ought to be exploring.

If I spend twice as much will it be twice as good?

Yes … no … well, sometimes. A $10 bottle of wine may well be twice as good as a $5 bottle … and a $16 bottle twice as good as an $8 one. Over and above this level though the value for money becomes more subjective. To a degree, you're paying a premium for perfection because it's so rare and so hard to achieve. You need therefore to buy with caution to avoid expensive mistakes. You can find the occasional gem for $15 or less, but wines above $50/bottle usually guarantee a wine made without compromise. It may not be your cup of tea, but it will be made with perfection in mind.

How do I know what to buy?

As with any specialist product the most important thing is expert advice from someone you trust. At WSJ Wine, we don't buy on name and previous reputation — we select with great care, always taste 'blind' and ensure that all wines are very competitively priced. Backed by our unconditional guarantee you can buy with complete confidence.

What is 'En Primeur' buying?

Another word for this is 'pre-release' buying because you pay the 'cellar door' price of a wine prior to its official release. This guarantees your allocation of the wine … and protects you from likely price rises in the future. Shipping, insurance and duties are paid prior to delivery. 'En Primeur' buying is most common for fine Bordeaux and Burgundies, although we have a few exclusive selections that we make available on an allocated basis each year.

How do I know when to drink my fine wines?

Many of the finest wines in the world are built to last and need a few years to mature in bottle. In our wine lists you will find suggested 'starting' and 'drink by' dates. Sometimes we are able to offer small parcels of mature wines which are ready to enjoy straight away. Give them a couple of weeks to 'settle down' first though after the journey to your door.

What if I have no storage space?

If you plan to keep wine for any length of time keep it away from direct light at a, constant temperature, as cool as you can find (down to 55°F). Underground cellars are ideal of course but if like most, you don't have one, a closet away from heat and vibration will work fine.