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Dear Dr. Vinny,

How is wine appraised? If I have a bottle of an age-worthy red that is being cellared at a proper temperature, how can I determine its increase in worth after X amount of years? How might I go about having my collection insured?

—Topher, Temple, Texas

Dear Topher,

If you simply want to know what the going rate for a collectible bottle of wine is these days, there are a few places to track that down, including our own wine auction database. But if you want to get your wine collection officially appraised and insured, that’s a bit more complicated.

First off, contact your insurance company and find out what coverage currently exists—many homeowners’ policies may cover theft or fire to some extent. If the value of your wine collection is growing, you might want to get some additional and more specific coverage for breakage, spillage, faulty cellar equipment and/or power outages. Folks who live in places at high risk for earthquakes or floods might also consider specific insurance for their wine. Coverage may even be available for wines in transit to you or for wines stored away from your home.

You should definitely take an inventory of your wine, keep it up to date, and make sure you give those updates to your insurance company. You’re right that if you’re going to get your wines insured, the insurance company will probably want to get them appraised. The insurance company will want you to hire a professional wine appraiser (yes, this is a real job) or an auction house that specializes in wine. Both the appraiser and the insurance company will probably want details to prove you take care of your wine—both your wine storage setup and your alarm system.

Since you sound like you might be looking at your wine at least in part as an investment, I’m going to direct you to my tips for what to expect when you’re reselling wine. An entire collection with well-documented provenance will typically be much more valuable than wines that lack such documentation.

—Dr. Vinny

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