Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.
Dear Dr. Vinny,
I have invested in more than 300 rare bottles. In order to maintain the quality of the labels, I can apply a protective film over them. Should I use it, knowing that I will certainly auction my wine at a later stage? Or will my wines lose value at auction if I use this electrostatic film protector?
I’ve heard of such products, but I haven’t used them myself. As you said, it’s an electrostatic vinyl film to protect your wine labels from moisture, dust and critters.
I called around, and certainly every auction house will vary in their advice on this matter. One representative I spoke with said that, in general, any alteration to a label is frowned upon. Changing a label in any way—even to protect it—puts the provenance of the wine into question. During the inspection process, anything that is out of the ordinary can be a red flag (even a signature, unless it comes with a certificate of authenticity).
The good news is that if you’re looking to resell wines at auction, while some collectors only insist on pristine labels, I was assured there are plenty of wine drinkers who actively seek out wines with labels that might be stained, torn or moldy because they are looking for a deal. And from what I’ve heard, state of the label isn’t nearly as important as the wine’s ullage, or fill level, which is an indication of how a wine has been stored. The main reason a person would stay away from a wine at auction would be any indication of seepage.