Tips for Packing Bottles of Wine

Unless you are getting professionals to pack your precious wine collection, you will need to take special care to ensure that it is packed properly to preserve the wine’s character and to avoid breakage.

Things you will need

First, take stock of your collection. Once you know how many bottles you have, you can make sure you get good quality and the right quantity of packing materials.  In addition to wine boxes, you will need packing tape to secure the boxes, packing paper to protect the bottles, permanent markers and labels. You can buy these from SmartBox. Just log into and place your order.

Whether you own a large collection or a small assortment of wines, it is important to document your inventory before you pack. In fact, this is an important step in the moving process regardless of what you’re packing. With your wine collection, you should document the name, vintage and year of each bottle. To be especially thorough, you may want to take pictures of each bottle but ensure that the label’s details are clearly visible in the photograph. If the collection is expensive, this process will help with any potential insurance claim.

Pack your bottles into specially designed wine boxes that will keep the bottles separated. The boxes have individual cells/slots with Styrofoam dividers to cradle the bottles snugly and prevent them from knocking against each other during transit. The boxes come in two sizes for either six or 12 bottles. As wine bottles are heavy make sure the bases of the boxes are sturdy enough to support the weight of the bottles. It is recommended to use smaller sized boxes as they will be easier to lift and transport. Before putting the bottles into the slots, check that the caps are tight. Once you have placed the bottle into the slot, fill any empty spaces with packing paper.

If you do not use wine boxes or a wine shipping crate to pack your wine bottles, another option is to use regular moving boxes. When using regular boxes, you will need to take special care because they do not have the separate cells/slots that wine boxes and crates have to protect the bottles. This makes it important that the wine bottle is carefully wrapped before placing it in the box. Wrap each wine bottle with two or three sheets of packing paper and secure the paper with tape before placing it in the box. Take particular care to wrap the necks of the bottles as this is the most vulnerable part and more likely to break. Ensure to cushion the box with sheets of packing paper before placing the wrapped wine bottles in the box.

Label the boxes “fragile, handle with care” and “this way up”. Place the labels on all sides of the boxes so that they do not get mishandled. When transporting the wine boxes, ensure that you do not stack one over the other. Stacking them will increase their chances of them toppling over and getting damaged during the move. It is best that you place the boxes on the floor of the vehicle it is being transported in.

Know your wine

Wine needs to be transported at the correct temperature without the bottles being jostled around too much. Each wine varietal has a special way and temperature at which they should be handled and stored to preserve their character. Some wines need to be transported upside down while others could lie horizontally. If there are corks they should be kept moist or they will dry out, shrink and let oxygen enter the bottle and ruin the wine. Champagne and sparkling wine needs to be packed upright.

It is imperative that you find out the specific requirements of the wines you are transporting. If you are packing more than one type of wine, you will need to find out the requirements for each type and ensure that they are transported accordingly as some wines are more sensitive to temperature than others. You will need to know your wine, know its special features and needs and how to care especially for each bottle if you are going to enjoy the libation at destination or if you will need to tip it out. If you are planning to transport the wine during summer or winter, you will need to consider about how the extreme heat or cold could affect your wine. Remember you can’t transport open bottles. If you have any, it is best you finish them or give them away.

Most wines will need to settle after being in transit. Sommeliers refer to this as “bottle shock”. The flavour is altered when the bottle has been shaken and exposed to varying temperatures. So, if your wine was in transit for a few hours you should wait for at least seven days before opening them. If the wine’s journey took a day, wait a couple of days more before opening them. If you just need to store your wine collection safely, then SmartBox has the solution for you. You can place your precious wine collection in a mobile storage unit, lock up the unit and call us to collect and store it. We will store it securely and what’s more, is that you can access your stock and grab a bottle or box for times when a celebratory event calls for it.