How to Move a Wine Collection

Fine wines require special handling and storage when transporting. Their delicate character and chemistry can be affected by movement, tempurature and exposure to light. We recommend extra precaution when moving these valuable investments.

Consult a Sommelier or Wine Locker for Advice

Step One: Appraisal  

Have your high-value collection appraised by a qualified professional. Appraisal fees vary widely from area to area. Appraisers usually charge by the hour but can be contracted for a flat fee. The best way to locate a wine appraiser is through a local wine merchant who handles collectable vintages.

During your in-home estimate, let your moving representative know you will be moving wine or other high-value items.    

You will need to complete the High-Value Inventory Form if the value of your collection exceeds $100 per pound. The form will be provided by your United representative during the pre-move survey. Your mover will explain the protection plans from which you may choose.

Step Two: Legal Research

Because alcoholic beverages are regulated differently state-by-state, you’ll want to check with the alcohol control authorities at your destination before you move. Some states have restrictions governing the types and amount of alcohol that can be brought in for personal use.

Step Three: Packing

Take care to prepare your wine for the move. United has specially designed boxes to pack bottles and fragile glassware. If you plan to do the packing yourself, these boxes may be purchased from your local United agent.

Corked wines should be placed on their sides or upside down in the packing container to keep the corks wet. Please be sure to set aside bottles that have been opened. They may not be shipped with your unopened inventory. Individually wrap bottles and insulate the box to ensure your wines travel undisturbed.

Even if you use extreme care in packing your wine, bottle shock may occur from the wine shaking within the bottle as it is moved. If opened too soon, a loss of flavor may result. To prevent this, be sure to allow the bottles to rest at your destination at least seven days for every day your shipment is in transit.

Step Four: Climate Controlled Moving

As a result of moving through different climates, changes in environment may affect the taste and appearance of your wine. Most wine experts agree older red wines’ delicate flavors need to be protected from shifting temperatures. They recommend a consistent temperature of 55 degrees for storing and transporting wine. White wines and less expensive supermarket brands are less susceptible to damage by temperature.

For a small, manageable collection, we recommend transporting the collection by car, where atmospheric conditions can be better controlled. A climate-controlled van can be used to move a very large or rare collection. However, arrangements must be made early and the additional cost may be more than you wish to spend. Ask your United agent for details.

The best time to move your collection is early spring or late fall. The temperature in the van during the summer months can be very high and in the winter there is the possibility of the wine becoming slushy, which can alter the flavor. If your move must take place in the summer or winter months, you may want to consider moving your collection via a commercial airline. If you want the wine to be professionally packed, consult your mover. Your prompt delivery to the airport and pick-up of the wine at destination will limit its exposure to temperature extremes.

Step Five: Check your Inventory

Your van operator will prepare an inventory of your shipment prior to loading. When you reach destination, carefully check your household goods and wine collection against the form. Should there be any loss or damage, be sure to note it on the inventory. Contact your United agent who will help you complete a claim form.

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