More Hongkongers have been collecting and investing in wine since the tax on it was abolished in March last year. They see wine as a tangible stock with a relatively stable value. And, while the economic downturn has tempered what was a rapidly expanding market for the import, sale and storage of wine, interest in all things vitis continues to soar. But wine lovers looking to start a wine collection should not let pure enthusiasm go straight to their head like a cheap chardonnay. Without doing your homework, walking the straight yellow line to the cellar door may become a boozy stagger that ends in an expensive hangover. 'Collecting wine is hard work,' says Shirley Chiu, managing director of a wealth management company and wine collector with about 1,500 bottles in her collection. 'If you don't care about and can afford making mistakes, then collecting wine is just like shopping. But if you can only handle a small margin of error, you must do your homework.' That homework starts, happily, with drinking a lot of wine. 'For a successful personal wine collection, you must first enjoy drinking wine. Try as many different wines as possible, then filter out the ones you definitely don't like, then further refine what you do,' says Ms Chiu, who believes blind tastings are especially good for identifying and remembering wines. The growing appreciation of wine in Hong Kong means there are plenty of options to access a range of wines and expand your knowledge. Many of the city's top restaurants have wine pairing dinners, while bars such as Tastings in Central have wine dispensers so you can pay for a small taste of a range of wines, including rare ones. There are also a growing number of wine courses, from beginners up, and auction house Bonhams Asia launched its Wine Education Scholarships for professionals in the food and beverage industry this year, a first for the city. Meeting people who share an appreciation for wine is another way to learn more. The Crown Wine Cellars in Shouson Hill, where Ms Chiu stores her wine, hosts wine-pairing dinners in which members each share a bottle from their own collection. 'There hasn't been much of a wine culture in Hong Kong in the past, but now that wine appreciation is a growing trend, it's much easier to get people who love wine connected,' says Ms Chiu. The abolition of the wine tax has meant that some individual collectors who used to store their bottles overseas are bringing them back. Shipment of small amounts of wine is not expensive, and many small wine storage facilities have popped up - ideal for personal wine collections. Wine merchants that used to store their wines overseas, especially French wines stored in Britain, have also brought their stock to Hong Kong to be stored until consumption. The tax-free status has also resulted in importers bringing in a much wider variety of vintages, rather than just the well-known labels they know are going to sell well. Hongkongers also have access to more wines through auctions. Bonhams held its first wine auction in 10 years last April, Christie's its first in seven years last November and Sotheby's held its first earlier this month. Ms Chiu's personal strategy includes loading up on the 2000 vintage. While experts say 2005 was a good year, she finds them too pricey. She has been buying wines from the 1980s, a few of them she intends to drink and, when she's finished drinking them, she will have bottles from the 1990s. The best, she's saving for investment.