ancient wine bottles dusting in an underground cellar
Feb 28, 2018

What are the best practices for caring for your wine collection?

Wine “connoisseurship” encompasses a cultivated palate, careful selection, research and preservation. Whether you have invested in a few Super Tuscans while on vacation in Italy or have a cellar at home full of vintage Bordeaux purchased from a trustworthy domestic retailer, proper care, storage and insurance are essential for preserving any level of wine collection.

Keeping thorough documentation of your wine collection is important. Invoices, descriptions of each bottle, auction records and information on provenance should all be kept in a safe location, with copies on file with your insurance broker.

Collectible wine is driven by its demonstrable market. Condition, provenance and rarity are the three components that determine its value. Obtaining updated appraisals every two to three years will help to establish that your collection is insured to the proper replacement value.

To ensure that wine collections remain consumable for the near or far future, bottles should be stored horizontally in a cool, dark place, away from fluorescent light or direct sunlight.

A consistent environment of 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit and 60 percent to 75 percent humidity is ideal, especially if the temperature never fluctuates more than a few degrees.

The reason? Radical changes in temperature can cause wine to expand and contract, resulting in oxidation, spoilage or leakage of bottles from corks being pushed open. A temperature alarm can monitor changes to the refrigeration system. A backup generator can further ensure temperature stability by preventing mechanical breakdown of the climate-control equipment due to a power outage.

Movement can also negatively affect the condition of a wine collection. Avoid storing the collection in areas that experience vibrations from equipment, surround sound or heavy traffic.

Finally, install a dehumidifier where your collection is stored. The dehumidifier will help to stabilize damp conditions and prevent mold growth, ensuring that the bottles and their exterior labels remain protected for years to come.

Fine wine insurance is part of the “valuable article” category and offers robust enhancements specific to wine collecting. Scheduled and blanket coverage options are available under a wine policy. Bottles of wine individually valued at over $25,000 should be scheduled to ensure their retail replacement value, up to 150 percent as specified in the policy contract.

Exterior damage and spoilage resulting from temperature fluctuations caused by mechanical breakdown due to the climate control system are typically covered for wine collections. Depending on the insurance carrier, earthquake and flood protection may also be included in the policy, or such coverage may be added by endorsement. It’s important to note that as with all valuable articles policies, wine coverage does not protect against gradual deterioration, rot and inherent vice.

One last issue: Collectors should be mindful of how wine merchants ship their large purchases. Many insurance companies place restrictions on the maximum amount they will cover with the big mail carriers such as FedEx and UPS. So a specialty shipper should be used for wine valued over $10,000.

Overall, wine insurance is key
Caring for your personal collection ensures its drinkability, longevity and financial protection. Aon’s Global Fine Art Practice is available to discuss any specific questions regarding wine insurance, storage or best practices. Salute!

All descriptions, summaries or highlights of coverage are for general informational purposes only and do not amend, alter or modify the actual terms or conditions of any insurance policy. Coverage is governed only by the terms and conditions of the relevant policy. 


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