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Oct 2, 2009 06:19 AM

Storing Botttles Upright?

A wine shop I was in recently kept all of their bottles upright rather than sideways. Not just the fast-moving inventory, but everything. Talked to the owner, and he is a guy that seems to know his stuff. His explanation was that he sees more problems with cork taint than with corks drying out, unless the wine is going to be held for a really long time (in which case, for collectibles, some producers will periodically replace the cork and "top off" the bottle), and that he'd rather reduce the risk of cork taint by not exposing the wine directly to the cork as happens when the bottle is stored on its side.

Anything to this?

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  1. When I visited Moccagatta Winery in Barbaresco, Italy, Franco Minuto showed me his special wine cellar where they kept wines all the way back to his grandfather from about 1900. All these wines were stored upright. I asked about this and he said he had never opened a bad bottle. Once in a post on here, I believe Maria Lorraine referred to a U.C. Davis study indicating there was enough humidity in the bottle to maintain the cork when stored upright.

    1. If the cork is tainted, upright or sideways will make no difference whatsoever.

      1. I have been collecting for decades. I also buy and sell wine. I would never store upright for long term. Very few quality old wines are corked. I think the average is something like 1%.
        Storing an old bottle upright after it has been stored on its side (or upside down) saturated for decades- now suddenly drying out-may compromise the cork seal. I hope your wine store guy doesn't do that with the oldies.

        3 Replies
        1. re: sedimental

          "1%"?? Curious stat. The industry (including makers of wines in the $25-$100 range) seem to think the TCA rate is closer to 6 or 7%. I've never found it to be that high, but have assumed it was a low level of sensitivity on my part.

          1. re: Midlife

            I don't know about that price range. I was referring to high end wine-the bigger auction houses, private collector auctions and cellar brokers- they always quote the 1% stat as "standard" for that class of wine.Those wines are sitting in their bottles for decades and only have a 1% problem when properly stored (which "means" laying down, in a temp and humidity controlled environment with minimal vibrations). If you told them you stored the bottles upright- they would automatically refuse them to re-sell.

            1. re: sedimental

              Interesting. That level of wine is probably so well made that it is not subject to the kind of contamination that leads to TCA.

        2. We owned a wine shop for a few years ('06-'08) and the only wines we stored upright were the 'facings' (as they're called in the trade). One bottle of each wine so the customer could see the label. I had lots of customers who would only buy the bottles behind, which were laying down. We also 'stacked' some special value wines in front of the shop, but they were more moderately priced and moved quickly. People didn't seem to have a problem with that.

          I would agree with your shop owner, that other faults are much more of an issue than dry corks, unless the stock has been sitting upright for a REALLY long time (I mean YEARS), though it could be a bigger issue in a very dry climate.