The Bekins Blog

Boxes, Bottles, and Bouquets: Move Your Wine Collection With These 6 Easy Tips

As a wine collector, you can appreciate a good glass of Merlot or Chardonnay. Over the years, you’ve visited some of the best wineries in the states, and you’ve purchased quality wines from around the world. As a result, you’ve assembled an impressive collection of Pinot Noir, Sauvignon blanc, and Zinfandel.

So when you need to move across town, or across the country, you don’t want to toss your bottles in the back seat of a car or casually throw them into a moving van. You need to take care that the wine remains in good condition throughout the entire trip; otherwise, you may end up with a lifetime supply of vinegar.

The following tips can help you protect your investment and keep your collection in good shape.

1. Appraise Your Collection

You already know that quality wine doesn’t come cheap. Some bottles retail for $50 at a winery, while others sell for $300 at high-end restaurants. The most expensive wines cost upwards of $26,000 per glass.

If you don’t know how much your wine collection is worth, talk to a qualified appraiser. The appraiser can determine the worth of each bottle as well as calculate your collection as a whole. The final appraisal will help you choose the right insurance policy or protection plan for your collection. Should your wine suffer damage during the trip, you’ll have an easier time filing a claim for compensation.

2. Photograph Your Inventory

When you move, you have a lot of boxes to organize and monitor. Even if you label each box with care, you may still struggle to keep track of which items ended up where.

As many of your wine bottles look alike, you may have a hard time keeping your Riesling separate from your Cabernet. To maintain an accurate inventory, photograph the label of each bottle as well as the entire box or crate you placed the bottle in.

If you want to record additional details about your collection, consider downloading apps such as CellarTracker or VinoCellar. These apps will let you scan your wine’s UPC barcode or manually enter specifics about each bottle so you can track your wine with ease.

3. Inform Your Moving Company

Though you trust your moving company to work quickly, it may not be ideal for them to move your wine, especially across the country. Talk to your moving company about your wine collection and whether they ship alcohol for clients. Ask about custom crates or cell-divided boxes for your bottles. And if needed, request storage space with temperature control.

Your moving company may also recommend and coordinate a company that specializes in only moving wine.

4. Avoid Extreme Temperatures

Older wines are vulnerable to shifts in temperatures. Any extreme changes could alter the wine’s flavor and render it unpalatable.

Most experts recommend storing wines at 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Warmer temperatures cause the wine to expand more rapidly than the rest of the bottle. And as the internal pressure increases, small amounts of the wine’s bouquet escape through the cork.

In contrast, cooler temperatures slow the oxidation process. If you store your wine at a colder temperature, you delay the wine’s maturation by several years, and in some cases, the wine never achieves its full character.

If you don’t have access to a temperature-controlled moving vehicle or storage facility, consider moving during the spring or fall, when winter freezes and summer heat will have less of an impact on your wine.

5. Research State Regulations

Do you plan to move across the state or across the country? If so, you’ll want to do a little research into alcohol transportation. Some states penalize those who bring alcohol for personal use across state lines.

Pennsylvania, for example, prohibits you from transporting alcohol into the state, with few exceptions. Only members of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, those with an importer’s or direct shipper’s license, or those with a sacramental wine license can transport wine into the state.

In Utah, only the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control may legally import or ship wine past the borders. But if you move your permanent residence to the state, you may possess small amounts of wine for personal consumption, not for sale or resale.

6. Allow Your Wine to Rest After a Move

As a wine ages, the phenolic molecules combine to form tannin polymers. This solid matter gradually falls to the side of the bottle, forming a thin layer of sediment. When you shake the bottle during packing or shipping, you disturb the sediment in the bottle. The flecks floating in your glass will taste bitter, interfering with the wine’s fruity flavor.

After a move, you’ll need to let your wine rest and allow the sediment to settle once more. Although experts debate how long the rest period should last, you should wait at least a week before you open and decant the sediment. For older wines, you may want to wait a few months to let the bottle completely clear up.

Still Have Questions?

Although these six tips should make moving your wine collection a little easier, the list is far from comprehensive. Don’t hesitate to talk to your professional mover for additional advice.