QUESTION: Should wine be stored flat like in wine racks? Or, is it ok to have it standing up like in most supermarkets?
Madeira is the only wine that should be stored standing up. If the cork fails and falls into the bottle, it will still survive. Any other wine should be stored lying down in a cool, dark, humid environment, away from vibration and fluctuations in temperature. Supermarket shelves have a high turnover, so there is no danger of the wine being stored long enough to have the fact that it is standing have any impact. The reason for keeping the wine lying down is to keep the cork moist. If it is standing up, the cork could dry out, shrivel up and drop into the wine. The resulting influx of oxygen would kill any wine in a short timeframe. - Bartholomew Broadbent, CEO of Broadbent Selections
I think this is a minor issue in wine storage. Most wine racks are horizontal and that is fine. If you want to store them upright in a card board box, I think that is fine too. Traditionally it was thought the cork would dry out. My experience has taught me that the humidity in the wine bottle is 100%. The cork will not dry out on the bottom. If the wine cellar has decent humidity, neither will the top. In either event, there will be some evaporation thru the cork over a period greater than ten years. Once a wine is held that long, corks are problematic. Left on their side, corks may be more prone to becoming mushy making removal difficult. If the wine leaks a bit, it will certainly show up sooner for a bottle on its side. That may be a good thing as that bottle can be consumed earlier. - Loren Sonkin is an IntoWine.com Featured Contributor and the Founder/Winemaker at Sonkin Cellars
To provide diverse, unbiased, and independent advice, Bartholomew and Loren answer all user submitted questions without consulting one another. Sometimes they agree, sometimes they don't. Always interesting though. Have a wine question for them? Submit it via our Contact Us form.