After the children and property, divorcing couples now have something new to argue over – who gets the wine collection.
The likelihood of a dispute over carefully laid down bottles of chablis and burgundy has spread from the wealthy to the middle class, a leading family law firm said yesterday.
It reflects both an increasing enjoyment of finer wines among the general population, and wine's growing popularity as an investment for the future.
The likelihood of a dispute over carefully laid down bottles of chablis and burgundy has spread from the wealthy to the middle class, a leading family law firm said yesterday
Hall Brown Family Law, which dealt with 360 divorces last year, said a dozen of them involved extra cost and delay for couples who believed the value of their wine store was worth fighting over.
Andrew Newbury of Hall Brown said: 'There has been a definite increase in cases featuring arguments about ownership of the wine collection in recent years.
'These disputes are no longer confined to very wealthy couples who are able to amass collections of the very finest and most expensive vintages, even though we have dealt with a number of couples contesting ownership of collections worth substantial sums.'
Mr Newbury said the middle-class divorce row over wine is a recent phenomenon, but couples are likely both to overrate the value of their collection and underestimate the cost of valuing it and negotiating over who gets it.
'What we're seeing is many more cases in which one or both spouses take more than just a casual interest in what they're drinking,' he said.
'That has combined with a much broader recognition that wine is an asset which has appreciated considerably in value over the course of recent years.
'Such has been the degree of appreciation that wine has almost become the new vintage car.
Just like cars, courts and couples tend to have something of a blind spot when it comes to valuation.
The process of determining how much something is worth can be very costly and time-consuming and can be regarded as something of an unwanted hold-up in a divorce.'