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Q: Store the bottle sideways or on a slant?

by David on January 7, 2008

Question from Mike: Should the wine rack be built to store the wine sideways or at a slight angle? I have a bet riding on this. Thanks, Mike

Reply: Hi, Mike! Thanks for writing. Well, this one’s a draw. The vast majority of wine racks place the bottles in a horizontal position, but there’s nothing wrong with having them pointing down at an angle and you can even store cork-finished bottles upside down. Many wineries pack the cases with the bottles upside down for collectors who just stack the cases in the cellar and for distributors who may have the wine in storage for some months.

I decided to double-check with a higher authority, to see if there’s anything new on this from the “Oxford Companion to Wine“: “Bottles to be stored for more than a few weeks, however, should be stored so that any cork is kept damp and there is no possibility of its drying out and allowing in the enemy, oxygen. This usually entails storing the bottles horizontally. The wine itself in an inverted bottle comes to no harm. Research in the late 1990s suggested that an ideal storage position for wine bottles stoppered with a natural cork is at a slight angle from the horizontal so that the cork is kept damp but the air bubble of ullage just touches the cork rather than lying on top of the middle of the bottle. It has also been suggested by some that champagne ages most gracefully when stored in bottles that are kept upright rather than horizontal but this has not been proven.”

So, you can see that this supports both theories with, perhaps, a slight tip of the hat, and the cutting-edge award, to whoever prefers storing the wine at an angle.

While we’re on the subject, I get lots of questions about wine storage with the new closures such as plastic corks and screw caps. In that case, it may feel funny, but you don’t need to store them sideways (but you can, if you want) because the closures don’t need to be kept wet. Ah – our ever-changing world! Temperature is as important as ever.

I hope that helps!

If the bet was a dinner, I guess you go dutch!

Cheers! Nancy

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