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Store wine on its side or standing up?

I have a 50 bottle wine fridge that is full. The more I get into wine, obviously the more I am purchasing. I am at a point now I have 10+ bottles of wine, at any one point, that can’t fit in the fridge. I live in Southern CA and don’t have a basement and my garage get very hot. I have been storing the extra bottles in low kitchen cabinet standing up. Every time I drink a bottle from the fridge, I replace it with one from the cabinet. My question is, should I be storing the bottles in the cabinet on their sides or is it ok to stand them up?

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  1. I would store them sideways. If the bottles have screw tops or artificial corks you can store them standing up.

    1. If you're drinking them fairly quickly and the turnover between cabinet and fridge is a couple weeks, then you're probably fine. If you're taking longer than a month to move them, I'd recommend storing them on their sides. This is also assuming you've got bottles with (real) corks. If you need an easy (read: cheap) way of storing them sideways, get a wine box with the dividers and put it on its side. If you're storing the wine bottles standing up, the box should fit where some stacking systems might not.

      One other solution would be to drink faster ;)

      1. Ideally, on their side is ideal as the wine is keeping in contact with the cork to keep it from drying out. So long as you are not storing it straight up and down for years at a time, you should be fine. Look at how many liquor stores have their wine standing straight up and down. I have only come across a few bad bottles purchased at the local stores, and who knows if this can really be attributed to storing them like this. You never know. But if you can, lay them down! Only ones I have standing up are my screw tops like beckowafer mentioned. -mJ

        1 Reply
        1. re: njfoodies

          Sounds good. Thanks for the tip on the wine box, winechik. I like your other solution too...

        2. There is a new study from U.C. Davis, I believe, that found there is enough humidity inside the bottle to maintain the cork in the upright position. I think you could find this on the internet, as it is fairly recent. In Italy, I observed very old bottles (maybe the early 1900's) in the private cellar at the Moccagatta Winery in Barbaresco stored upright. I questioned Franco Minuto about this and he said there had never been a damaged bottle. In thinking about this, I realize there is no vibration, a fairly constant tempature (it probably reaches the low to mid 60's) and no heating or air conditioning to affect humidity. I think all this only matters if you intend to store a wine for several years. Even in many higher end restaurants, the wine is stored and served too warm. Of course, that could be a function of from which end of the wine list I choose my selections.

          1. Sounds like it is time to buy a bigger wine fridge. But beware, you will always end up with more wine than you can fit in it. My wife bought me a VinoTemp 500, and I still have cases and cases of wine stacked next to it (thankfully in a cool basement room.)

            1 Reply
            1. re: dinwiddie

              Upright but upside down is just as good as on the side.
              Another point is that sunlight is also not very good for wine.

            2. I've been told that spirits (Cognac, Armangac, etc.) should be stored upright because the high alcohol content will damage the cork otherwise. No one seems to worry about the cork drying out in this case. It makes me suspicious about the standard wine advice.

              1 Reply
              1. re: shane

                I recently opened a bottle of cognac that had been sitting upright in my mother's cabinet for about 6 years. It had been forgotten, as my mother doesn't drink, and my father (who drank cognac about once a month) passed away about 5 years ago. When I pulled the cork out, it exploded into a dry, dusty cloud. I ended up fishing the last couple chunks out of the neck of the bottle, and then pouring the cognac through a coffee filter.

                I confess, the only reason I drank the cognac at all was sentimental.

                Long story short, given sufficient time, a cognac cork will eventually disintegrate.

              2. This is one of those interesting things that seems to live on due to sheer force of tradition--like presenting a cork in a restaurant, it is just the way it has always been done. But like the cork presentation, it is relic from another era. If you owned a chateau and wanted to store some of your wine almost indefinately, then sure, you probably want it on its side. It can't hurt and it "might" end up keeping a few corks from drying out. However, the rest of us (non chateau owners) need not think twice about upright vs. sideways.

                The deterioration of corks over time has to due with multiple factors only one of which is keeping some wine contact. I would first worry about temperature and humidity. In the life of a bottle of wine it spends considerable time standing up and laying down. I have opened numerous 20 year old bottles from my cellar that have spent years standing up and rarely have a problem with the corks (I do have some on their sides as well--I actually use it as a staging process where I know I need to drink the things standing up first). In the cases I do have some cork issues, I can't necessarily determine if it was from poor cork to begin with, temperature issues (i.e. being stored in a very dry environment for extended periods upright or not) etc. as I haven't owned most of the bottles in my cellar for their entire life.

                SO, I've never heard anyone say storing wine on its side is bad, but I wouldn't worry about storing them upright. It sounds like your consumption horizon is measured in weeks and months and not decades so you are fine. Especially since it sounds like you are talking about white wines which are rarely held long enough to ever really be worried about cork deterioration due to upright vs. sideways storage.