Shelf Life and other things to know - Printable Version

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- Mike G - 08-18-2004 10:05 AM

I want to set up a small business buying wine by the container load and selling same. It's just something I want to do as a hobby and I'll be happy if I break even. I need to learn about stuff I don't know about like - "what is the shelf life of *** wine"? Anybody know a book or other source I can read?

- hotwine - 08-18-2004 01:32 PM

Welcome to the board, Mike. Your business idea is one I tried to pursue 20 years ago, and hit a mine field of state and federal restrictions here in the States. Hope you have better luck.

As far as "shelf life" goes.... wines will keep for months or years if your storage is sound: temperature in the range of 55-60F, relative humidity of 60-70%, dark and vibration-free. And the bottles should be stored on their sides, to keep their corks wet.

Foodie recently got out of the wine retail business in New York... maybe he'll pipe up.

- Thomas - 08-18-2004 04:06 PM

Well, the most glaring problem I see in your post Mike G are two words that go in opposite directions: business and hobby.

Having a hobby does not ensure that you do it and succeed as a business. And if you aren't at the level of wine knowledge to know of its shelf life, you are far away from what you'll need to know to even break even in the wine business.

[This message has been edited by foodie (edited 08-18-2004).]

- Mike G - 08-19-2004 03:03 AM

Hi hotwine / foodie,

Thanks for your replies. I did think to myself as I posted my message that it sounded a little naïve. I believe that’s because I posted a question looking for information without trying to justify my attempting to do something without any experience. So I set out here some background – sorry if it rambles on a little.

I use the word business because I know that I will not be able to do this without a professional approach not least in complying with all the rules, regulations and standards that apply. I use the word hobby because I am retired and need nothing from the venture other than something to hold my interest and give me some satisfaction. I would like to make a profit but would be happy to break even. I believe that is attainable because the country I intend to do this one of the new EU countries which has previously had a lot of areas closed and protected to the native population which is now open to the other EU citizens i.e. there is little competition. I have a lead-time of about 6 - 9 months before committing myself. I recognise I have a lot to learn and as I progress I may learn that it is something that is going to give me more pain than pleasure.

Up to now I have spent my time identifying what is required by all the regulatory authorities and what taxes, duties etc they impose. I then turned my attention to buying and targeted South Africa because up until 3 months ago I lived there. Naively I thought that there would be a wholesaler there who would supply me with my chosen wines at a price less than I had previously purchased them in the local (South African) supermarkets. I searched the Internet and sent emails to organisations which looked appropriate. All the reply emails came from producers offering me wine by the case or asking me if I wanted to be their ‘agent’. I recognise that I am unqualified and so many ways to put myself forward as their agent but I also recognise that for them to offer in the first instance is an indication of how under represented they are in my chosen country (opportunity?).

I have lots of questions and lots of things I need to learn. I have been to the wine importer nearest to me here (In UK) and he was not interested in answering my questions. I have telephoned others and some have been very helpful with advice. I found this group and posted my question – one of my questions.

Any observations gratefully received


Mike G

- Thomas - 08-19-2004 06:40 AM


The only way you will get a competitive price for importing is to deal directly with the producer, which is what importers generally do. That is why so many producers asked if you want to be their agent. That is the way it is done.