Why is Wine Stored on its Side?

It’s the one golden rule proclaimed by wine connoisseurs around the globe. You must always store your corked bottle of wine on its side. But why? What is the reason behind this thinking? And does it really harm your bottle of wine to store it upright?

Today, we’re going to be taking a look at why wine is stored on its side. We’ll also be looking at evidence that suggests you don’t actually need to store your wine like this.

Why is wine stored on its side?

Wine has always been traditionally stored on its side because of the cork. It has long been thought that if a bottle of wine was stored upright for a long period of time, the cork would start to dry out. 

When it dries out, it pulls away from the neck of the bottle, allowing oxygen to enter and oxidize the wine. It is thought that a dry cork can also become more porous, which will then allow oxygen to enter the bottle.

This can then cause the wine to ‘cork’, so that the delicious beverage is reduced to nothing more than vinegar.

It is thought that by storing your bottle of wine on its side, this helps to keep the cork moist, and prevents the dreaded oxidation process. Oxidation damages the flavor of the wine as well as its character. This can ruin the taste and change the color of the wine.

However, it is now thought that this isn’t actually the case. A 2005 study carried out by the Australian Wine Research Institute indicates that storing the bottle upright actually had no impact on the corks at all. 

They argue that this could actually encourage your cork to degrade faster, as it’s in constant contact with the liquid.

It is thought that the air bubble between the wine and the cork is humid enough to keep the cork moist enough to remain tightly packed in the neck of the bottle without damaging the wine inside.

Whether you believe the 2005 study or not, one of the most important factors to consider when it comes to storing your wine is temperature. Heat can negatively affect your wine and make it deteriorate faster.

Is wine still good if stored upright?

According to the 2005 study, yes! It is now thought that the angle that you store your wine bottle at actually has no bearing on the quality of the wine itself.

There also doesn’t appear to be a time limit for how long your wine can be stored upright, as the study examined bottles of wine that had been left upright over a 5 year period.

There is more research ongoing to see what the effects are on wine that has been stored vertically for more extended periods.

It’s up to you whether you want to store your bottle of wine upright or on its side. Even though the study we’ve mentioned above shows some promising results, some people are reluctant to believe it.

They would recommend only storing your wine upright for between 2 to 7 days. But there’s no real reason why you should have to store wine on its side if it’s more convenient for you to store it upright. The main factor will be down to space!

Do screw top wines need to be stored on their side?

Screw top wines don’t need to be stored on their side, no. Wine has been traditionally stored on its side because bottles would always come with a cork in place to prevent the wine from becoming oxidized.

Screw top bottles don’t need to be stored on their side because they won’t allow air to get through into the bottle.

You can store your bottle of screw top wine either on its side or upright. Whichever method suits your home or wine cellar best!

How do you know if a wine has gone bad?

If you’re unsure whether your wine is safe to drink, there are a few factors to help you tell if it’s gone bad. The first indicator is the color of the wine itself.

If the wine has become oxidized, it tends to change color. White wines will start to go brown and red wines will start to lose those classic bright red or purple tones and turn a muddy brown as well.

Another indicator is if your wine has bubbles when it’s not meant to. This could indicate that your wine has fermented while it’s in the bottle.

This isn’t harmful to drink, but it will taste bad. If your wine smells like wet cardboard or wet dog, it’s best to leave it alone, too. This is another sign that the wine has corked.

Smell in general is a good indicator that your wine may have gone bad. If your wine doesn’t smell quite right, it’s best to opt for a different bottle.

How do you store wine for years?

So now that we know you don’t necessarily need to store wine on its side, how do you store your wine so that it will last you for years? The trick is to store it at the right temperature. If it’s too hot or too cold, this can spoil your wine.

The ideal temperature for wine storage is around 55℉, but this may also differ depending on the wine. It should never be stored below 25℉ as this can freeze, or above 68℉ which will accelerate the aging process.

You should also keep your wine from light and vibrations. UV rays from the sun can damage the wine, and vibrations from things like washing machines and stereos can disturb the sediments in the wine.

In summary

Who knew that there could be such controversy over how you’re meant to store your wine? Whether you believe the 2005 Australian study or not, it’s safe to say that as long as you store your wine at the correct temperature and in the right conditions, it should stay safe to drink whenever you do get around to opening the bottle.

Christina Day
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