While fine wine has
many enthusiasts, only a few possess the passion, the knowledge and the means
to invest in a fine wine collection. As a fine wine collector, you not only
savor the velvet sweetness of your favorite Château Pétrus, but you revel in
the treasured bottles acquired through the years. Your passion for rich
Bordeaux is perfectly aligned with your means to collect it, but such an
investment requires dedicated preservation. The following are nine of the most
essential tactics for protecting your fine wine collection.

1. Keep a Meticulous Inventory

When your
Courvoisier Erté collection cashes in at roughly $10,000, your wine is rich not
only in taste. If just one bottle is misplaced, you are facing a significant
financial loss. Keeping meticulous inventory of your fine wine collection is
paramount to your success as a collector.

Though you can opt
to keep inventory of your fine wine on paper, doing so leaves more room for
error. As you keep track of your growing collection, even the slightest mishap
can throw you off, causing a discrepancy in its net worth. Therefore, the best
way of keeping fine wine inventory is by incorporating wine management software into your
collectors’ strategy.

2. Track Values Regularly

The worth of wine is
based on several factors, all of which fluctuate regularly. What you paid for a
bottle of Chateau Meroux 2007 will not be its worth in ten years’ time. To
ensure that you are aware of your collection’s exact net worth, commit the time
to track the value of each bottle.

Fine wine value
tracking sites like Decanter.com not only inform you
of the value of various wines, but also offer up analysis and predictions about
their future worth.

3. Ensure that Your Wine Rack Can
Withstand Natural Disasters

Natural disasters
may not be prevented or even predicted, but a well-built cellar and racks can
resist their destruction. Reinforced wine racks will protect the bottles,
insulating them from significant damage in the aftermath of an earthquake or a
hurricane, adding yet another layer of protection to your investment. As
always, a greater investment in protection yields better results.

4. Choose Wine Racks Made of Unfinished

Unfinished wooden
racks are built to last and tend to adapt well to their environment. And
although there are a few schools of thought on the subject of stained wood
racks, some argue that chemicals in stain and paint can travel through corks
and ruin the flavor of wine.

Based on our
research, using a wine rack made of unfinished wood is the safer option for
storing your fine wine wine collection.

5. Control Cellar Temperature

If you were to live
exclusively amidst your bottles of fine wine, you better have an innate
preference for frigid temperature. Otherwise, your sweet, savory, aging Merlot
would become nothing more than a bitter disappointment. You can invest in a
premium insurance policy and keep a flawless wine inventory, and you would
still lose your collection to the irreversible damage done by the fluctuating
temperature of a poorly-controlled wine cellar.

The ideal
temperature of a wine cellar is a frigid, constant 55 degrees Fahrenheit. At
this ideal temperature, the wine aging process is refined and stagnated,
decreasing it to only a select few chemical reactions which bring out its
natural sweetness. Temperature fluctuation will cause the wine to expand and
contract, damaging the cork and causing oxidation to occur.

Modern quality wine
cellars feature a digital controller. At least one controller is installed in
the unit, acting as its constant, precise thermostat. You can choose a manual
option whose controls and interface are easily managed. Another option is to
invest in a temperature control system, which can be accessed via smartphones.
For the professional fine wine collector on the go, remote access is a

6. Store Bottles on Their Sides

As a fine wine
collector, you are likely continually educating yourself on the best practices
for preserving fine wine. One of the most confusing debates of proper wine
storage is still whether to store bottles standing up or to line them up on
their sides. The little-known yet indisputable truth is: storing wine on its
side is ideal because it helps you control the amount of oxygen that comes in
contact with the wine.

According to Vintage Cellars, “When you store a
bottle of wine on its side, the liquid keeps the cork moist. The cork keeps its
size (and can even expand if needed, for instance, if a warm environment causes
the glass bottle to expand), and so maintains a tight seal against the outside
air. The only air that gets in is through the small pores in the cork–the
perfect amount to age the wine well.”

7. Keep Your Wine Away From Light

Protecting your
precious collection from excessive light sources may seem obvious, but many
fine wine collectors incorrectly assume that natural light is not damaging.
Indeed, natural light, including sunlight, can damage wine quickly. A bottle
does not need to be exposed to prolonged periods of light, even short bursts of
light can cause significant damage.

8. Invest In a Power Backup for Your
Cooling System

As in all other
ventures, wine cellar operation is deemed to fail every now and then. Typically
caused by power outage, inadvertent temperature fluctuation can sabotage your
efforts. You can avoid temperature emergencies by installing a backup power source
for your cooling unit. A generator can be a great backup power source – either
a whole-house or plug-in generator will do, but remember, a stand-alone unit
will not work if you are not home to start it up!

9. Insure Your Collection with a
Valuables Policy

You have insurance
on your home, auto, and life, so why not wine? In the case of unforeseen
circumstances, you can protect your investment with a properly designed
insurance policy.

Even if your wine
cellar is a part of your residence, home insurance doesn’t cover your wine
thoroughly. Your collection means the world to you both in asset and in
sentiment, but it is still considered a luxury. A valuables insurance policy
can be the determining factor to recoup your investment that took years to build.

Fine wine is a
delicate goddess, deserving of care and protection against her many
vulnerabilities. Likewise, your investment, both financial and otherwise,
demands many layers of protection. The fascinating art of fine wine collecting
brings forth many pleasures that far outweigh its risks.

© 2024 Garden State Wine Growers Association Supported in part by a grant from the NJ Department of State, Division of Travel and Tourism
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