When you purchase wine futures, you are purchasing wine that is still in barrel. The wine has not yet been bottled by the winery. The most important collectible market for wine futures is in Bordeaux. At En Primeur week, critics and distributors will sample wines directly from the barrel of the top châteaux to give collectors information on the anticipated quality of the wine. Each château will allocate quantities of the wine to specific distributors and retailers, allowing them to sell the wine to their end consumers at a price that is usually lower than what the release price will be. The wine will remain in barrel for a few years, and the inability to confirm quality before purchasing makes futures inherently riskier than buying on pre-arrival.
However, collectors can also get better deals on wine futures than they can with pre-arrivals, and in great years it is a fantastic investment opportunity. When you purchase futures you’ll pay for the wine up front, then wait years for the wine to mature in the barrel, go through bottling, and then through distribution and shipping. Don’t be surprised if it takes as long as four years for your wine to arrive.