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Wine Wisdoms #29: Get Horizontal

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009 at 12:42:09 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Modular Wine Rack

One of the most important things when selecting the proper storage for your wine collection is the position of the bottles. We recommend that you store all of your wine bottles horizontally. Why?

With horizontal storage, the cork stays moist by its contact with the wine and any sediment that develops will sit at the bottom. If your wine bottles are stored vertically, the corks are at risk for shrinking and drying out, which means they will crumble when you decide to open the wine. It’s best to store the wine horizontally and parallel to the ground, on an even plane. If the bottle is angled downward the sediment falls toward the neck and if angled upward, you will have the same cork drying issue as if the bottle were vertical! Plus, horizontal storage is the best way to keep your bottles organized!

Thanks to Robert Dwyer at Wellesley Wine Press, for asking this great question!

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6 Responses to “Wine Wisdoms #29: Get Horizontal”

  1. 1 John-Edward Alley said:

    I have heard that is not critical for sparkling wine. Is that true? I store almost all of mine wines horizontally but have a 9 litre bottle of Schramsberg sparkling wine that I store vertically in my cellar for display purposes and would like to a Schramsberg magnum on that display shelf as well but do not want to risk either wine. Thanks for you input.

  2. Hi Erika!

    Thanks so much for taking this up. I think the reader who sent me this question was looking for guidance on how long it would be acceptable to store a wine vertically. Similarly as with temperature control situations, when it’s not easy to provide optimal conditions in the short run for whatever reason, knowing an approximate time frame when vertical storage would be non-harmful would be helpful. I would guess it would be OK to keep a wine vertical for a year or two but longer than that it could become an issue. What does you think, approximately?

    Robert Dwyer
    The Wellesley Wine Press

  3. @John-Edward Alley Typically sparkling wine is not aged long. Perhaps a very fine vintage Champagne can age but certainly not as long as a tannic red wine. In that case I agree, horizontal storage is not as critical for sparkling wine, especially if you have a temperature and humidity controlled cellar. I think your Schramsberg is OK. How long has it been there?

    @Robert Dwyer If the room is humid enough, 1-2 years of vertical storage should be OK but in a more dry room the cork could dry out sooner.

  4. 4 John-Edward Alley said:

    Thanks so much for the good information. I have had this 9 liter wine about 6 months and it has been stored vertically for about 4 months in my wine cellar. Temp is about 55 and typically the humidity is in the low 70s. For some reason, in recent days, it has dropped to the 50s. I am having the refrigeration unit checked. I have many bottles of sparkling wine, all stored on their side, I have had for many years and they have all been fine when opened and enjoyed. Thank you. Regards, ja

  5. 5 David Moseler(Wine Storage Consultant) said:

    John-Edward Alley: Humidity inside of a wine room should be anywhere between 55-70 percent. Depending on your location, you’ll notice less moisture in the room in the winter time versus summer months. As long as you are within this acceptable range, you should be fine.

    the best part about having a temperature controlled wine cellar is opening up a perfectly stored bottle! If the wine looks like it’s stamped on the end of the cork, you have done well. Enjoy.

  6. 6 John-Edward Alley said:

    Thank you very much!

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