Guide to Packing, Moving and Storing Your Wine Collection

Last Updated: 
Thursday, January 26, 2023
Guide to Packing, Moving and Storing Your Wine Collection

Table of Contents

    Moving a wine collection is not as easy as moving your books or clothes. Wine bottles, especially good wines, require extra care while transporting them to a new place. The SOS Moving & Storage team prepared a step-by-step guide for you to minimize the risk of damage when packing and moving your precious bottles.


    Prepare Your Wine for Moving

    1. Make an Inventory of Your Wine Collection

    Make an inventory list of your wine collection so you can control every bottle that needs to be transported, including the boxes or packing cases where every bottle will be placed.

    2. Have Your Wine Collection Appraised

    Contact a couple of wine assessors in your area and request estimates of your collection’s value from them. It is important to determine the value of your wine collection. In case there’s any damage to your collection during transportation, you have a written paper proving its full value. Another option is getting in touch with some local stores that sell expensive bottles in order to find out the current prices.

    3. Get Insurance Coverage for Your Wine Collection

    All items, including your valuable items, must be covered by an insurance policy. Get in touch with your transporter and let them know how much your wine collection is worth. Get all the information from them about insurance rates and the necessary paperwork before moving.

    4. Gather the Necessary Supplies and Equipment for Packing and Moving

    The next step is to begin collecting the necessary supplies for packing your wine collection. The ideal choice is to utilize premium wine packaging material if you’ll be packing delicate and pricey bottles.

    Here are some of the materials you need for packing and moving:

    • Stretch wrap, which will be used to secure the wine boxes during transportation;
    • For additional protection of each bottle while being packed, use bubble wrap or packing paper. Make sure that each bottle’s cork is tightly wrapped;
    • Wooden wine cases will be used to temporarily store your bottles until you unpack them at your new place.

    5. Find Out About Local Regulations for Moving Alcohol

    The principles for shipping wine can alter depending on where you’re moving and what state or district lines you’ll need to cross before you arrive at the final destination. Check with the local authorities when crossing state lines, because it’s important to make sure that you are not breaking any laws. Your collection might need to be declared. Your appraisal will be useful if you need to document your wine assortment.

    Tips on Packing Wine

    Tips for Proper Wine Packing

    Secure the Bottom of Boxes

    It’s the most important part of any moving box. Use packing tape to reinforce it and check if your box can hold the weight of your bottles. Overly worn or damaged boxes should not be used.

    Wrap Each Bottle

    Get a stack of packing paper and put it on a table. Check the tightness of the caps if the bottles were opened. Place each bottle on its side and start wrapping the bottle. Get 2-3 sheets of packing paper, put them together and roll them around the bottle, mold the neck of the bottle. Check that it is covered well and secure it with tape. Put the bottles in boxes.

    If you’re using regular boxes instead of wine shipping boxes or cell boxes, wrap each bottle individually. If the cells in cell boxes are too big for the bottles, wrap them with more packing paper before you put them in cell boxes.

    Box up the Bottles

    Check if the bottom of each bottle is well protected before putting them into boxes. If it’s necessary, add some more paper to create a cushion. After you place the bottles into boxes, gently shake them to check if you hear any clinking sounds. If you do, fill the gaps with additional paper or other packing materials. Use a lot of packing tape to seal the box, and lastly, write “fragile” on your boxes and label them so you can see at once that it’s a box containing your wine collection.

    Tips on Moving Wine

    Move Wine Like a Pro

    Keep Moving Temperature in Mind

    Environmental change may impact the flavor and appearance of your wine as it travels through different regions. The majority of wine experts have a similar outlook that the delicate flavor of older red wines must be preserved from temperature fluctuations. When it comes to transporting and storing wine, it’s recommended to maintain a constant temperature of 55 degrees.

    We recommend transporting small collections by car where air conditions can be better controlled. Moving large or rare collections can be carried out in climate-controlled bigger vehicles, such as moving vans.

    Plan in advance because there may incur extra expenses and this can exceed your moving budget. The best time to transport your wine is early spring or late fall. In summer the temperature in a vehicle might get quite warm, and in the winter, your wine may freeze and become mushy, which can change the taste of your wine.

    If you are relocating during summer or winter, think about transporting your collection by a commercial airplane. Tell your mover that you want your wine to be professionally packed. The impact of extreme temperatures on the wine will be kept to a minimum thanks to the prompt delivery to the airport and meeting at the destination.

    If You Are Moving It Yourself

    This is a wise choice if you have a small but valuable collection. We often recommend families transport their valuable items in their own vehicles whenever possible. You have complete control and peace of mind when doing it yourself. You can have your wine packed by a professional packer so your bottles will be safe throughout the whole trip.

    If You Are Hiring a Professional

    There are shipping companies that only transport wine and spirits. The cost of the service can be pricey, but that’s the best option if you’re moving your precious collection over a long distance.

    Another option is, you can hire a professional moving company that knows how to load and move it safely, no matter if you’re moving your collection locally or across the country.

    Allow Your Wine to Rest

    After the move, don’t open bottles for at least seven days, or longer if the move requires driving for more than one day. The wine shakes in a truck which can lead to bottle shock. Flavor loss may occur if the bottles are opened before they have had time to recover from the vibrations.

    Tips on Storing Wine

    Learn How to Store Wine

    Configure Correct Temperature for Storing Wine

    Some experts say that limiting temperature fluctuation to less than a 5-degree swing within 24 hours is the most important factor. The ideal temperature range is between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit, with minimal variation. Although temperatures between 40 and 65 degrees are suitable for wine storage, the “ideal” temperature depends on how long you want to keep the wine. Wine aging is a chemical process that is slowed down by colder storage temperatures. Accordingly, colder temperatures will prevent your wine from maturing too quickly. Warmer temperatures, on the other hand, speed up the process and cause the wines to age much more quickly.

    People who live in small apartments or condos often place wine racks on top of their fridges. Wine racks are convenient for keeping wine in the kitchen without taking up any space on the counter or floor. It may seem like an ideal place, but in fact, that’s not true. Due to the heat that is produced by the refrigerator and expelled out the back, it is actually not a good place to keep wine. This places your wine directly in a hot air ventilation path, slowly “cooking” your wine, which is not good if you care about the wine’s taste.

    A place out of direct sunlight is much better for wines than storing them in the refrigerator. If you have to choose between the two options, of course, it’s better to choose the colder conditions.

    A lot of casual wine collectors keep their extra bottles in garages and closets. The severe daily temperature fluctuations in such places can be harmful to your wine.

    Store Wine Under Appropriate Humidity

    When it comes to wine storage humidity levels, the most important thing is to keep the cork from shrinking or drying out. This can happen if the humidity levels are too low for an extended length of time. When the cork shrinks or dries out more oxygen than it’s necessary goes into the bottles. Your wine may become more like vinegar as a result of this oxidation and premature aging.

    Screw-cap bottles of wine don’t have this problem with “corked” wine. A widespread misperception about wine is that a screw-capped bottle means a lower-quality beverage. This might be wrong because the quality of wine depends on a particular winemaker’s branding and packaging. Wines with screw caps can be excellent.

    Always store wine at an angle to keep the cork moist. Damaged wine labels, which are prized by some collectors, are another humidity issue. If the humidity level is too high over a long period, damage can happen to wine labels along with the growth of mold.

    Use Proper Wine Lighting

    Over time, wine also can be damaged by certain lighting types. Sunlight and incandescent light are very bad for wine. Keep your wine in such places where it won’t be directly affected by those types of light. If you have a choice to buy wine by the box or the crate, go for the second option. Because crates are excellent light-blocking barriers.

    The wine bottle glass also may protect from harmful light. Some people say that wines in lighter-hue glass (clear and green) and more slender wine bottles are considered of lower quality or are planned for rapid utilization. Although the notion that wine in such bottles has less value has been refuted, it is still true that wine in lighter bottles should be drunk earlier. Darker glass (dark green and brown) and thicker wine bottles provide much more UV protection, allowing those precious juice drops to withstand the harsh conditions of aging.

    Bar carts are used by many people to store wine. The bad thing is, sunlight can hit your wine bottles directly. Most bar carts have wheels, so move it around until you find the best spot for the lighting.

    Beware of Wine Storage Vibration

    The process of aging wine boils down to providing the ideal conditions for a chemical reaction, rather than its sentimental value increasing over time. Wine is agitated by vibration, which accelerates the chemical aging process. As a result, it’s best to keep the wine in a place where prolonged exposure to vibration is minimal. Some people use wood racking that dampens naturally.


    Bottom Line

    In conclusion, if you value and love your wine collection, take care of it and prepare it well for the upcoming move. It’s much better to do it with experts who are competent in wine transportation.

    Skilled professionals can help pack your precious collection properly. Whether you are moving locally or across the country, experts will ensure that your wine arrives in perfect condition and flavor.

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