A wine collection is a wonderful thing, and a personal one at that — a selection of your favorite wines, aging quietly and, one hopes, increasing both in quality and value. You have invested time and effort into building your cellar. Take steps to ensure that your wine is protected.
The quality and consistency of your storage is critical. The worst thing for wine is rapid temperature fluctuation, which speeds up the deterioration of the wine and prevents the slow development that produces exquisite, mature wine. Keep a consistent temperature as close to 56 degrees as possible, and never above the mid-70s. Wine subjected to high temperatures ages more rapidly and can develop cooked flavors, which are irreversible and ruin the wine.
The right humidity level is also important. Oxygen is the enemy of wine, and in an overly dry atmosphere corks will contract, thereby permitting oxygen to enter the bottle. Humidity of 70-75 percent is usually recommended, more than that can cause damage to labels. Finally, avoid direct sunlight as light and UV radiation accelerate the decomposition of wine.
Storage is paramount even if your collection is intended solely for personal use, but if your collection is investment grade, more action is needed. As the incidence and awareness of counterfeit wines increases, establishing provenance of your wines is becoming similarly important. Selling your wine will be easier if you maintain complete records of your purchases, preferably with information obtained from your vendor regarding the wine’s previous history. Photographic documentation, particularly for your most expensive bottles, is an additional safeguard.
Your wine is safely stored and thoroughly documented. Time to relax and perhaps open one or two of them? Almost. The last step toward protecting your investment is to insure it against damage and loss.
For the most part, valuable wine collections are not covered by a standard homeowner’s policy, so a wine collection, like other valuables such as art or antiques, should be separately insured. This is where you need to consult with an insurer experienced in wine and who can ensure that you are thoroughly protected against unfortunate occurrences.
This blog is part of a continuing series offering advice on assembling and caring for a wine collection in your home. Additional information is available at the author’s website. See your local, independent insurance agent for advice on coverage to protect wine and other items of value.
© Copyright 2017 Neil Kaplan; used by permission.