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The 5 Biggest Threats to Your Wine Collections

Once you’ve started collecting wine, you’ll soon confront a serious issue: how to protect one of the world’s most delicate investments. Whether you plan to drink a portion of the collection or keep bottles solely as an investment, all fine wines face the following major and very common threats that can compromise their quality:

  1. Temperature control malfunctions
  2. Theft or disappearance
  3. Power outages affecting humidity and other controls
  4. Water damage from flooding
  5. Bottle breakage

Proactive steps to keep threats at bay

Much like people, wine requires a stable environment to mature properly. Even relatively small changes in temperature, light or humidity can alter its character. To prevent a reduction in your wine’s shelf life or value, make sure your storage area meets the following conditions:

  • Temperature at 55°F to prevent premature aging
  • Humidity between 65-75% to prevent damage to the label and cork
  • Bottles stored at least eight inches off the ground to avoid damage if the cellar floods
  • Far from heaters or sources of sunlight
  • Far from places prone to vibration, such as a home theater or music room
  • Far from hazardous materials or anything that gives off fumes—they can permeate the cork even in ideal storage conditions (No wine in the garage!)

If you aren’t sure if your home storage area meets these standards, there are professionals who can help you evaluate your options including alterations to the space, or renting space in a specialized wine facility.

Once you’ve done the work of setting up optimal conditions for your collection, storage is a relatively simple matter of making sure those criteria are consistently met. You may want to have back-up systems and generators in place to keep environmental controls functioning even during an outage, or pre-order hard-to-find parts so repairs can be made as soon as they’re needed.

Pay particular attention to your wine cellar when any home renovations or repairs are being done on your home—especially if they’re in an area adjacent to the wine. You’ll need to ensure the workers are closely monitoring the climate and light controls to make sure your collection isn’t impacted. Specialized contractors should be used for these areas to ensure they understand—and can meet—the needs of these kinds of facilities.

To protect against bottle theft or breakage, your wine cellar should have an additional lock installed and connected to your home security system. Ideally, the system should have controls to detect not only unauthorized access but also temperature changes or moisture that would indicate a leak, flooding or other damage to the storage area. Systems that send alerts to your mobile device (or to your household staff) mean that you can move quickly to rectify any problems before there’s a loss to your collection.

If you ever have to transport part or all of your collection you’ll want to look for specialized shipping companies that have the expertise to package, store and ship investment-grade wine and have refrigerated trucks available if you need them. Even if you don’t anticipate moving your collection, it’s a good idea to have a list of such companies on hand, especially if you live in an area prone to hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes or other natural catastrophes. Establishing a connection with a transport company in advance of such an emergency can mean the difference in getting your collection out of harm’s way if a destructive event is impending.

Last updated Tuesday, December 4th, 2018

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