Will it damage my wines' resale value if I protect the labels with electrostatic film?

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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?

—David M.

Dear David,

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.

—Dr. Vinny

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