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 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 Wood
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 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 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 necessity.
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.