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How to Maintain the Value of Your Wine Collection

Wednesday, January 27, 2021
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Most wines are consumed before they reach peak maturity and quality. But a growing number of serious enthusiasts are holding onto prized bottles for years – even decades – for the delayed gratification of a better experience or, increasingly, for a return on investment. (In 2017, more than $5 billion of wine transactions took place on the global secondary market, according to Zion Market Research.)

Whatever your reason for collecting, it’s worth taking a few simple steps to maintain the value of your collection:

  • Keep Complete Records of Provenance. Wines that are improperly shipped or stored can easily be damaged. How can you tell the difference between a damaged bottle and a perfectly good one without opening it? In most cases, you can’t. And an unfortunate buyer of a bad bottle usually has little recourse.

    That’s why any sophisticated buyer of wines from a personal collection will expect to see records of where and when the wine was first purchased, whether the wines have changed hands since the original purchase date, and under what conditions the wines have been stored.

    Without complete records, you may be able to sell your wines – but you should expect the collection to fetch a steeply discounted price to compensate for the buyer’s risk.

  • Don’t Over-age Wines. Selling your wines before or at the time of their peak maturity will be easier than selling them once they are at risk of being past their peak or “over the hill.” Wine Enthusiast publishes an excellent resource – its annual vintage chart – which you can use to estimate the ideal aging period and “drinking window” for reds or whites of a given region of origin.
  • Don’t Skimp on Storage Conditions. What storage conditions are necessary to maintain your collection’s value? It’s not enough to keep wine beneath the stairs. To maintain market value, you’ll need to store them at about 55º F and at about 65% humidity. You’ll also need to ensure they aren’t exposed to sunlight or vibration (such as from a washer or dryer).

    No less important is the condition of the bottle’s label. A torn, scuffed, stained, moldy or peeling label can reduce a wine’s market value. Avoid using sharp metal shelving, which can easily tear holes in labels, and always keep your front labels facing up. To prevent moldy labels, control humidity and make sure your wines aren’t stored below a water pipe or sprinkler head, or where condensation may occur. (According to Chubb, about 37% of wine claims in 2019 were the result of water damage.)

    If you don’t want to go to the expense of building your own climate-controlled cellar, there are now many dedicated off-site wine storage facilities that offer ideal conditions.

  • You Can’t Always Protect Wines, But You Can Protect Their Value. Wines are fragile, and risks accrue the longer they age in your cellar. Even if you take all the right steps to maintain their value, the only surefire way to protect your investment is to buy an insurance policy. 

    Until just a few years ago, it was difficult to find an insurance policy that could cover a wine collection. Most valuable articles policies didn’t cover the unique perils that apply to wine (e.g., overheating) and most homeowner’s policies weren’t (and still aren’t) adequate to cover valuable collections.

    Not so today: specialized products are now readily tailored to any wine collector’s needs – and the costs of insurance are typically worth paying for any collection valued at $85,000 or more. 

Learn more about the ins and outs of wine insurance here – or contact specialist broker Ken Sidlowski at The Horton Group to discuss your options. Set up a consultation at +1 (708) 845-3159 or ken.sidlowski@thehortongroup.com.

Material posted on this website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a legal opinion or medical advice. Contact your legal representative or medical professional for information specific to your legal or medical needs.

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