Is it OK to Store Wine Upright?
When it comes to storing wine, enthusiasts often find themselves caught in a debate over whether it’s acceptable
to store wine bottles upright. The traditional wisdom suggests that wines should be laid horizontally to
keep the cork moist, preventing it from drying out and potentially allowing air to seep in. However, is
storing wine upright really a cardinal sin, or is there more nuance to this age-old advice?
The Horizontal Tradition
For decades, the prevailing belief has been that laying wine bottles horizontally is the best way to store
them. The idea behind this practice is to keep the wine in constant contact with the cork, preventing it
from drying out and losing its elasticity. A dry cork can lead to oxidation, which can spoil the wine and
alter its taste and aroma.
Additionally, laying the bottle horizontally minimizes the surface area of wine exposed to air, reducing the
chances of oxidation. This method is especially crucial for wines with natural corks, as synthetic corks
are less susceptible to drying out.
Exceptions to the Rule
While the horizontal storage rule has its merits, there are exceptions to consider. Firstly, wines with
alternative closures such as screw caps or synthetic corks are not as sensitive to cork dryness. Storing
these bottles upright is generally acceptable and won’t impact the wine’s quality.
Secondly, short-term storage may not necessitate laying the bottles down. If you plan to consume the wine
within a few weeks or months, storing it upright is unlikely to cause significant issues. However, for
long-term aging, especially with traditional cork-sealed bottles, the horizontal position remains the
Upright Storage Considerations
Storing wine upright comes with its own set of considerations. One of the primary advantages is that it
requires less space, making it a practical choice for those with limited storage options. Upright storage
is also preferred for sparkling wines, preventing excessive pressure on the cork, which could potentially
lead to premature aging. For more wine storage information see here.
Temperature and Humidity
Regardless of whether you choose to store your wine upright or horizontally, maintaining proper temperature
and humidity levels is crucial. Wine should be kept in a cool, dark place with a consistent temperature
between 45-65°F (7-18°C) and humidity levels around 70%. Fluctuations in temperature and exposure to
sunlight can degrade the quality of the wine, regardless of its storage position.
Conclusion: Balancing Tradition and Practicality
In conclusion, the debate over storing wine upright or horizontally is not a one-size-fits-all scenario.
Tradition suggests laying bottles down to preserve cork integrity, but practical considerations, bottle
closures, and intended storage duration play significant roles in determining the optimal position.
Ultimately, wine enthusiasts should strike a balance between tradition and practicality based on their
collection and storage conditions. Whether upright or horizontal, the key is to ensure that your wine is
stored in a controlled environment, allowing it to age gracefully and delight your palate when the time
comes to uncork and enjoy.