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Some wines are offered for sale before being bottled. The consumer is asked to reserve a quantity of wine for later delivery. This is done for two reasons: to secure stock of a rare wine, and to buy at a low price in times of inflation. A third reason is speculation (see Auctions, below) The buyer who parts with money for wine that is still in the vat is placing c great deal of trust in the supplier. The merchant, in turn, is relying on negociant or a producer to honour a contract two years hence. There have been several occasions when companies have defaulted on these contracts, or simply gone broke, and the legal position of the consumer is often unclear. If buying wine en primeur (also called buying futures deal only with the most reliable merchants, and keep all paperwork.

The only real reason for buying en primeur is to safeguard supplies. The wine trade finds it costly to hold stocks of wine until they are mature: modern accountants look askance at the old practice of cellaring wine for a decade or so. In addition some wines are made in small amounts and may not be obtainable via the stores. The consumer may feel the sacrifice of tying up cash in wine is worthwhile to be sure of having mature stocks of favorite wines. This also allows control of storage conditions: you can cellar it yourself, or pay your (trusted) supplier to keep it for you.

The question of saving money depends upon too many variables for prediction. If the wine is scarce to start with, and will grow scarcer, it may rise in price and it may be possible to sell part or all of the stock bought en primeur at a profit. This can misfire: wine prices fall as well as rise; vintages and chateaux may not fulfil their early promise.

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