Tips for taking care of your wine collection

Naperville home inspectionsYour wine collection is growing and probably so is its value. Based on the results of a recent wine auction, held in Hong Kong in early October, the price of collectible wines is breaking records.

A 12-bottle set of 1988 DRC Romanee-Conti recently went for $117,000. But not everyone can afford a six-figure case of wine. Many wine connoisseurs own bottles that are far less expensive, but the way you should care for and protect your wine remains the same.

Whether your collection includes the six 2000 Chateau Lafite-Rothschilds that recently sold for $14,500 in the fall auction at Zachy’s, or bottles from your favorite wine club, your wine needs to be protected not only to retain your investment value but also to ensure quality.

If you have a wine collection, or are thinking of building one, here’s how to care for your bottles, according to Don Soss, the vice president of high-net-worth insurance at Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company, a high-net-worth insurer that specializes in insuring wine collections.

* Keep an eye on your climate control
A temperature of 55 degrees with relative humidity between 60 to 65 percent are ideal for long-term wine storage. The cool temperature slows the aging process, while the humidity prevents moisture inside the wine bottle from moving into the cork and eventually evaporating into the air. Keep in mind that ideal temperatures do vary somewhat depending on the type of wine you are storing. Attics and garages are not ideal places to store wine, as temperatures can fluctuate greatly in these locations.

* Limit your collection’s exposure to light — A dark room is best for storing wine. Fluorescent light can be harmful.

* Wines should be kept in a stable environment — Vibration is harmful to wine, as it disturbs the sediment. Keep the bottles in a horizontal position.

* Back up your power supply — Your wine collection could be at risk during a sustained power outage. A permanent back-up generator will help protect your investment.

* Consider renting a storage space — If you lack adequate space to store your collection, professional wine storage facilities are available in most major cities.

* Insure your collection separately if it is valuable — As wine collections increase in value, collectors should consider insuring their collection.

Depending on the wine’s value, your collection should probably be insured separately from your general homeowner’s insurance policy Soss says. If not, you may run the risk that it is under-insured. The average value of a bottle in a wine cellar is often $100 or more; individual bottles can easily reach $700 to $1,000 for top wines. A cellar that contains, say, 500 to 1,000 bottles, can be worth between $50,000 and $100,000. Values can easily climb into the millions for larger collections.

* Choose blanket coverage or itemized coverage, or a combination of the two
With blanket coverage, your entire collection is covered under one limit, with a single bottle limit of up to $50,000 (with a Fireman’s Fund policy). Itemized coverage is recommended for wines valued at $10,000 or more and can be combined with blanket coverage to provide the best protection for your collection. Under certain coverage options, no deductible applies.

* If you buy insurance, be sure it covers all risks
Buy coverage that spans a wide spectrum of causes of loss including fire and theft, breakage, flood, and a range of others. You will also need coverage for loss due to power outage or mechanical breakdown of heating, cooling and humidity control equipment, all of which are critical coverages for oenophiles.

* Don’t transport your wine without checking with your insurer first
Before you transport your wine, ask your agent or insurer if this is a covered risk by your insurance policy. Be certain your wine is protected worldwide and while in transit.

* Security is imperative
Include your wine collection in your security system plans. Do background checks on household staff to avoid “inside” burglaries.

Wine collections are a passionate investment and are important to protect. Unlike other collections, you get to enjoy consuming the contents and add to the collection more often.

Healthy holiday eating advice for people with diabetes

naperville home inspectionThe holidays can be difficult for people watching their diet. For those with health issues such as diabetes, the dietary minefield of holiday temptations can be especially troublesome.

In the United States, 8.3 percent of the population (nearly 26 million adults and children) has diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. For these people, the usual holiday indulgences of sweets and rich foods can pose a serious health risk.

“People with diabetes must make significant dietary changes in order to manage their disease,” says Dr. Donald Hensrud, preventive medicine and nutrition expert from Mayo Clinic . Dr. Hensrud is the medical editor-in-chief for the new “The Mayo Clinic Diabetes Diet.” “Managing diabetes through diet isn’t a fad; it’s about changing your habits for the better.”

Americans gain an average of just one pound over the holidays (far less than colloquial estimates) but most also keep that extra pound, according to a joint study by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). Over the years, those pounds add up, and collectively, it’s fueling America’s obesity epidemic.

“Family history, being overweight, inactivity, a poor diet – these are the reasons why millions of Americans have diabetes or are at risk,” Dr. Hensrud writes in the introduction to “The Mayo Clinic Diabetes Diet.” “Weight loss can reverse the physical process that causes diabetes, and the effect can be dramatic.”

If you or a loved one has diabetes, here’s some advice from “The Mayo Clinic Diabetes Diet,” to help you stay on track through the holidays:

At a party

The hors d’oeuvres table is a downfall for many of us, especially during the holidays when we are presented with treats that we don’t see throughout the rest of the year. Depriving yourself entirely can make cravings worse and increase your risk of binging.

So approach the hors d’oeuvres with these strategies:

* Make just one trip to the table and be selective. Decide ahead of time how much you’ll eat and choose only the foods that you really want.

* Treat yourself with one or two samples of high-calorie or fatty foods, and then fill up on fruits and veggies.

* Take small portions. You may be able to satisfy your cravings with a small taste.

* Eat slowly and you’ll likely eat less.

* Don’t stay near the food all night. As the saying goes, “out of sight, out of mind.”

* Eat something healthy before you arrive so that you won’t be as hungry. Being hungry will make you more prone to overeating.

If you fall off the wagon

It’s the holidays, and chances are you’ll overeat at some point. It’s very difficult to resist temptation all the time. A minor slip isn’t the end of the world, but it can turn into a bigger problem if you view it as an excuse to give up altogether.

If you have a lapse, consider these tips to help get you back on track:

* Convince yourself that every day is a fresh opportunity to start over again.

* Have a plan to deal with lapses.

* Keep your response simple. Focus on the things you know you can do and stick to them.

“Good lifestyle habits, like losing weight, give you the best chance to treat your diabetes and prevent health complications,” Dr. Hensrud says. “Losing weight takes work and planning, but the rewards are great. With the right attitude, you can have fun and feel great while adding years to your life.”