A Winelovers Guide to Moving Wine

Moving a Wine CollectionI love wine. It’s a girl’s best friend. Because friends and family know that I enjoy a nice glass now and then, I’m often given special bottles for holidays, birthdays and other occasions. Needless to say, I’m proud of my growing collection.

When I move, the last thing I want to do is jeopardize my wine. Of course, this presents a challenge because moving and wine are not best friends. Moving and wine are enemies.


But, there’s hope. There are ways to move your wine so that you don’t ruin your stock – you just have to be precise and careful about things like temperature and packing.

Get an appraisal. If you have a high-value wine collection you should get it appraised by an expert. Fees vary widely from area to area and appraisers typically charge either an hourly rate or a flat fee for services performed. The best way to locate a wine appraiser is through your local wine merchant who keeps abreast of current values on certain vintages. You should also photograph your collection to document its contents.

Talk to your mover. If you are moving a high value collection, you’ll need to let your mover know that you will be moving wine. Special arrangements can be made for your collection and you may have to fill out a high-value inventory form so you are completely covered.

Be Careful!  Don’t just throw your wine in any old box – you want to be nice to your wine! Some moving companies will have boxes that provide added protection that you can purchase. There are also boxes that are specially designed to transport wine may also be purchased from places like California Glass. Used corrugated cardboard boxes with dividers may also be available from a local liquor store.

Lay ‘em down…or upside down. Corked wines should never travel standing up. They should be placed on their sides or upside down in the packing container to keep the cork wet. Do not pack bottles that have been opened. Label the box “FRAGILE – THIS SIDE UP”.

Your wine may be shocked. Hey, it’s moving to a new home too! While extreme care is exercised in packing your wine, “bottle shock” may occur. The wine will shake 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.

Temperature is greatest risk. Most wine experts agree the older the wine, the more delicate its flavor. Extreme changes in temperature may affect the taste and appearance of your wine. The best temperature for storing and moving wine is 55 degrees. White wines and less expensive “supermarket” brands are less susceptible to damage by temperature.

For a small, manageable wine collection like mine, you probably want to move it in a car so that you can control the atmosphere. Large or rare collections should be moved in a climate-controlled van. You’ll want to make these arrangements early and the additional cost may be substantial.

The best time to move your wine 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. You’ll want to make sure that delivery to the airport, and pickup of the wine at destination, is tight so that you limit expo sure to temperature extremes. Another option is to store your wine collection in a climate controlled storage facility until the seasons change.

Google liquor laws. It’s important to check with the Alcohol Beverage Control authorities in your destination state prior to your move. Some states have restrictions governing the amount of alcohol that can be brought in for personal use. This has never been a problem for me given I’ve only moved a handful of bottles at a time, but big collections may cause a stir.

Are you moving a wine collection? Have tips to share? Let us know below.