Wine is big business. Your wine collection is growing and probably so is its value. But wine’s value can only increase if it’s protected and properly stored. Something as seemingly harmless as storing bottles in a certain position can completely destroy the wine’s taste and investment value. Because wine is so delicate, it pays to listen to the experts on how to care for a wine collection.
Whether your collection includes DRC Romanée-Conti, ChâteauLafite-Rothschilds or bottles from your favorite wine club, here are some vital wine care tips from Don Soss, private wealth executive at Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company.
Keep an eye on your climate control. A temperature of 55° F with relative humidity between 60 to 65% is ideal for long-term wine storage. The cool temperature slows the aging process, while the humidity prevents moisture inside the wine bottle from moving into the cork and eventually evaporating into the air. Keep in mind that ideal temperatures do vary somewhat depending on the type of wine you are storing. Attics and garages are not ideal places to store wine, as temperatures can fluctuate greatly in these locations.
Wines should be kept in a stable environment. Vibration is harmful to wine, as it disturbs the sediment. Keep the bottles in a horizontal position.
Limit your collection’s exposure to light. A dark room is best for storing wine. Fluorescent light can be harmful.
Back up your power supply. Your wine collection could be at risk during a sustained power outage or mechanical breakdown of heating, cooling and humidity control equipment. A permanent back-up generator will help protect your investment.
Consider renting a storage space. If you lack adequate space to store your collection, professional wine storage facilities are available in most major cities.
Insure your collection separately if it is valuable. “Depending on the wine’s value, your collection should probably be insured separately from your general homeowners insurance policy”, Soss says. “If not, you may run the risk that it is underinsured. The average value of a bottle in a wine cellar is often $100 or more; individual bottles can easily reach $700 to $1,000 for top wines. A cellar that contains, say, 500 to 1,000 bottles, can be worth between $50,000 and $100,000. Values can easily climb into the millions for larger collections.”
Choose blanket coverage or itemized coverage, or a combination of the two. With blanket coverage, your entire collection is covered under one limit, with a single bottle limit of up to $50,000 (with a Fireman’s Fund policy). Itemized coverage is recommended for wines valued at $10,000 or more and can be combined with blanket coverage to provide the best protection for your collection. Under certain coverage options, no deductible applies.
If you buy insurance, be sure it covers all risks. Buy coverage that spans a wide spectrum of loss including: fire, theft, breakage, flood and power outages or mechanical breakdowns.
Don’t transport your wine without checking with your insurer first. Before transportation, ask your agent or insurer if this is a covered risk by your policy. Be certain your wine is protected worldwide and while in transit.
Security is imperative. Include your wine collection in your security system plans. Do background checks on household staff to avoid “inside” burglaries.
Wine collections are built out of a passion for the art of winemaking and wine tasting. Unlike other collectables, you get to grow your collection on a regular basis and enjoy the contents. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because it’s drinkable, it’s not worth insuring.