Tips for packing and moving your wine cellar

There are many wine enthusiasts building their collection over the years. On the other side, the vast majority of people keep a few bottles aside for some special occasion. Nevertheless, both of them are in a similar position when it comes to moving their prized possession. For hundreds of years, people were developing methods to make enriched and magnificent taste. From dark, moist, and cold cellars to modern climate-controlled facilities. Besides the time investment, the aging process involved, which makes the wine as good as it is, requires serious effort. That’s why packing and moving your wine cellar requires careful consideration.

Things to remember when packing and moving your wine cellar

The way you are going to use depends mostly on the value and the size of your wine collection. And in addition, on the distance of your move. Packing and moving a few bottles might be simpler, but moving a large collection long-distance is a serious endeavor. From simple small crates, you can place with you in your car, to large climate-controlled vehicles, you have a few options. Considering the above, you have two general options:

  • To pack and move it yourself
  • To hire professionals to do it for you

Both methods have their own advantages and it’s up to you to decide, depending on the number and value of your wines.

Packing and moving your wine by yourself

For a small collection, you can probably get away by doing it yourself. Make sure you follow the tips and general rules about handling wines and you will make it. For a bottle of wine, the optimal temperature is somewhere between 53-57 °F, especially if you plan to store it for the long term or to move it across long distances. Any temperature change may affect the rate at which your wine matures. Keep this in mind if you plan to move your small collection with a car or a smaller climate-controlled vehicle.

Letting the professionals do the job

For a large and valuable collection, hiring professional movers is probably the best option. Many moving companies have a specialist for handling delicate items like wines. Don’t forget to ask any question if you decide to opt for this type of service. It is more expensive than a DIY method but it gives you a certainty that nothing will happen to your collection. They have all the right packing materials to protect your bottles, and they offer large climate-controlled vehicles to maintain the humidity and constant temperature. Don’t forget that the changes in the environment can affect the taste and character of your wine before you discard this option.

Bottles of old wines covered in dust.
Professionals are the safest option for handling your valuable wine collection.

Here are some general tips to consider when packing and moving your wine cellar

Pack your bottles the right way

Before all, you should never pack opened bottles. Now, when it comes to moving, proper packing is crucial if you want to save your wines from damage. From the sturdy boxes and crates to the cushioning materials, everything can improve or reduce the risk of breaking. Here is a couple of different types of boxes you can use for wine bottles:

Styrofoam Shipper – small durable boxes that can prevent temperature changes for a short distance.

Double-wall boxes – a great option for transporting on pallets, most commonly used for packing and shipping in chiller lorry (a refrigerator truck).

Wooden crates and original wooden packages – they provide great protection against physical damage but, with a few exceptions, are not solely good for protection against temperature changes.

Six bottles of wine in a wooden crate.
Wooden boxes are great but not complete protection.

Specially designed cases – adequate for transporting wine as luggage but they may not be allowed in every commercial flight.

Make a complete inventory before moving

This includes taking pictures and writing down everything about each bottle you have. Generally, you can use online applications to help you with this. But, you will need it written on paper so you can compare it with the mover’s list, so it’s up to you. It will not be easy to catalog everything but it’s necessary.

Don’t move your bottles during the maturation process

Depending on the age of your wine, you should do some research about the maturation period of your wine. Any kind of vibrations that happen in transport can affect the taste and other characteristics by disturbing the molecular structure of your wine.

Be mindful about temperature changes

If you live in an area with extreme temperatures, you will need climate-controlled vehicles and storage for your wine. Also, summer and winter are known for big temperature differences. So if you are moving to Florida, it leaves you with spring and fall. Helpful to know is that older wines are more sensitive to any type of temperature fluctuations. As already mentioned, the optimal temperature is from 53-57 °F, depending on the wine.

What about the corks?

The reason why you always see wines stored on its side is to keep the cork wet. That’s one of the ways to prevent the air from passing in. However, moving companies will usually pack and transport the wine upright. There is no reason to worry, however, since it takes a couple of months for the cork to completely dry out. As for the storage, it’s a different story. You should always place your wine on the side in long-term storage. Even if the climate-controlled storage retains the optimal 50-70% humidity. It’s the only way you can be sure that corks will provide complete isolation.

Wine bottles with corks.
Corks provide a perfect seal if maintained properly.

Don’t open your wine right away

There is something called “bottle shock” most wine enthusiasts are aware of. Every time you transport your wine to another location, you should leave it to rest for at least a week before opening. That way, you will prevent the “loss of flavor” which occurs if the bottle is opened too soon.

Check the laws and regulations

In case you are moving to another country, you should check their laws regarding taking wine across the border. There are some states that don’t allow importing the wine in their country. Or, they limit the amount you can take in. Ask your moving company for this type of information when organizing.

Finally, don’t forget to appraisal and insurance of your wine before packing and moving your wine cellar. You will need complete documentation in case something happens during the transport and storage. In fact, this is extremely important if you are in possession of valuable wines. Follow these basic tips for they are perfect reminders in case you need to handle your collection this way.

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