In wine-loving France, owners of fine bottles have ironically adopted a practice started in neighbouring Britain that helps ensure the old French adage, ‘life is too short to drink bad wine’. Britain’s connoisseurs have long entrusted their best tipple to private firms for safe keeping. The idea only crossed the Channel to France, which produces much of the great wine that interests collectors, when a well-heeled Asian clientele started driving up prices. One of the pioneers in the business, London wine merchants FINE+RARE, started renting space to customers in 1994 to keep good bottles out of harm’s way — from thieves and other enemies like fickle temperature, light and vibration. ‘Our storage clients are predominantly private clients, storing fine wine for future drinking or resale,’ said Joss Flower, the firm’s grand cru director. Most live in Britain, with the Far East in second place since

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