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Dear Dr. Vinny,

Why are domestic wines not sold as futures, or are they? This seems to be quite popular with the wines from Bordeaux.

—Tim V., LaGrange, Ill.

Dear Tim,

Futures—purchases of wine before it has been released (or even bottled), for a discounted price—have never really taken off among U.S. wineries. A few wineries, including Chateau Montelena and Ridge, have done so successfully for years, and recently, some vintners in Santa Barbara have organized a futures program. Instead, limited-production domestic wines are most often sold through mailing lists, in which consumers get a chance to purchase wines that aren't likely to appear on retail shelves. Mailing lists are kind of like futures, minus the discount. However, "flipping" a wine—reselling a wine from a mailing list, usually at a much higher price—can in effect make some mailing-list prices look like discounts.

—Dr. Vinny

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