How to Protect Your Wine Collection - Alliant Private Client

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How To Protect Your Wine Collection


Transportation and storage You have made the leap from curious sipper to savvy connoisseur. You are bidding on rare bottles one day and stockpiling cases of sought-after vintages another. You delight in building your collection—not to mention decanting a bottle or two every now and again. But maintaining a significant wine collection is not without its perils too, especially given the fragility of the asset. Here is how we advise oenophiles on handling, caring for, and insuring their reserve.

Stock a cellar Be sure to research the provenance of each potential purchase, just as you would with any valuable collectible. To avoid fraud, consider buying only from a trusted marketplace expert.

Always use a professional wine-shipment company whenever you move your entire collection or even individual bottles of particular value. They can generally be counted on to nestle your assets in sufficient protective packaging and transport them in climate-controlled vehicles. Acquaint yourself with all laws governing interstate and international wine transport. Confirm that you have the appropriate insurance in place before every shipment. If you choose to store off-site, be sure to use a reputable, secure facility with state-ofthe-art climate-control technology to prevent spoilage.

If you bid for your bottles, try to frequent a vetted auction house. Such institutions can generally be counted on to have superior authentication procedures.

Speak with an advisor about how to keep your wine safe at home. They will help you set up and maintain a space with the optimal temperature, humidity level, and light.

Be wary of “wine futures.” They might put you on the inside track for upcoming, high-demand vintages if all goes well but sometimes it doesn’t. Unexpected climate events and fraudulent dealing not only make it imperative that you buy futures from a trusted merchant, but that you are clear about the risk you could be undertaking as well.

Consider storing wine at least eight inches above the floor to avoid water damage from potential leaks or floods. In fact, avoid basement storage altogether if you live in a flood-prone area. Water doesn’t have to seep into corked bottles to do its damage. It can wash off labels, cause temperature changes, and promote mold growth.

Save all documentation—invoices, appraisals, receipts—of every purchase and consider backing them up in the cloud.

Don’t store wine in a garage as car fumes can penetrate corks and cause wine to deteriorate. Do store wine in a part of your house that receives limited foot traffic—especially the little feet of children.

A few words about insurance Most homeowners policies have insufficient protection for this type of collectible. In fact, most perishable items may be limited or excluded. We suggest insuring wine collections under a separate policy. A blanket policy, which provides a selected amount of coverage for your wine collection, is a deductible-free option that affords worldwide coverage and the flexibility to modify your holdings without notifying your broker each time you add or take away from it. If your cellar is home to particularly precious bottles, though, you may want to schedule stand-alone policies to insure each treasure individually, at agreed-upon values. In the end, some blend of blanket and standalone policies might be wisest. Your broker can help you decide which strategy fits your circumstance best. In any case, it is always a good idea to discuss your burgeoning collection with an insurance advisor.

Install security and fire alarms, humidity and temperature sensors, and automatic water shut-off valves in the area you store your bottles—many of these systems can be synced to your smartphone for remote operation. Invest in a generator for the storage area so temperature and security don’t waver during power outages. You might want to keep certain spare parts handy if the generator fails so you can patch quickly. Consider hiring an expert to evaluate your storage setup, to be sure you have created an appropriate environment and the proper alarms as well as sensors are in place. Inspect bottles regularly for mold or stains, as the value of a bottle is often tied to the condition of its container.


Thinking long term Get your most expensive bottles appraised every three to five years or so. If your cellar is filled with a fair number of particularly high-end wines, you may want to solicit an appraisal more often. A quick call with your broker will help determine the best cadence. Plan ahead for catastrophes: The most expensive wine-related claims usually involve natural disasters like flooding, fires and earthquakes. Be sure you have a plan for transporting your collection in the event of any such emergency. Keep an up-to-date inventory to help you recoup losses should damage or theft occur. Stay in regular contact with your broker. Bottles can appreciate significantly quickly and unexpectedly, and an expert can keep you apprised of such shifts. (Alternatively, you can use a wine-cellar management app to track the values of your holdings.) Similarly, inform your broker when your collection expands dramatically, or whenever you add a rare or expensive wine. In such cases, your insurance needs may change. What one collector sees as a rainy-day investment, another sees as a dinnertime indulgence. But both will be best served to see their stocked cellar as a complex pursuit not undertaken alone. With the crispness of a Riesling and the depth of a Cabernet, an insurance broker’s advice can keep every bottle safe and secure until the decision is made to unload or uncork it.


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