Whether or not you are a wine connoisseur, a hotelier, restauranteur, or you just enjoy a glass of wine at home to relax, what you don’t want is to have your wine spoiled by incorrect storage.
Storing wine in the right way is crucial for everyone to minimize waste, and to make sure that wine keeps its aroma and more importantly it’s quality for yourself and your guests, or customers.
Many of us have heard on the grapevine that wine should always be stored on its side. But can it be stored on its side and if not how should it be stored?
Can wine be stored upright? Although it was understood historically that wine should be stored on its side, many new studies have concluded that this is not the case and that it does not alter aroma or flavor to store wine upright for up to 5 years or more, and in fact may be the optimum way to store wine.
Ok with the brief answer in mind let’s start by diving straight in with whether or not wine can be stored upright, and if so then we can look at some of the reasons why it may have differed from what we may have believed.
New research says it’s ok to store wine upright
So according to new research conducted by The Australian Wine Research Institute back in 2008 along with others, it appears that wine is fine to be stored upright.
During their research, they experimented by storing a Riesling and a Chardonnay using different seals and by storing on differing orientations, such as their side and upright.
The main reason for the research and what prompted the investigation was how synthetic and screw cap lids affected the flavor of the wine, as compared to wine bottles with cork.
The impact on storing wine upright
Within their research, while storing bottles in different orientations, both horizontally and vertically, it allowed them to discover more about the impact storing on various sides had on the quality of the wine.
In the words of the researchers:
“The bottle orientation during storage under the conditions of this study had little effect on the composition and sensory properties of the wines examined.”
Flavour and aroma unchanged after 5 years stored upright
So the main findings were that even though bottles had been both lying on their side and also standing up, there was no change to the wine’s taste and bouquet even after a 5 year period.
Other reasons it’s ok to store wine upright
Not only has there been a study undertaken by the Australian Wine Institute to clarify its ok to store wine standing up, but other experts have also reached the same conclusion.
According to an article in thedrinksbusiness.com, Amorim, who is one of the largest wine cork producers in Portugal declared more information suggesting it’s ok to store bottles upright.
Their research and development director, Dr. Miguel Cabral had this to say on upright storage of wine bottles.
He remarked that the head between the cork and wine is moist enough that it wasn’t necessary to lie bottles horizontally in order to keep the cork damp.
“The cork will never dry out with almost 100% humidity in the headspace, so it is a myth that you need to store a bottle on its side, cork won’t dry out if you store the bottle upright.”
Why was wine stored upright not previously considered?
It’s been a common theme of wine storage over the years that wine needs to be stored horizontally rather than vertically.
For as long as cork has been used to seal the bottles after the wine has been poured into them, it has been widely acknowledged that you should lay wine on its side if you are going to keep it for any significant length of time.
As is so often the case with historic information we’ve taken as fact, there will always be new scientific or other research that freshens up old or outdated thinking or provides an alternate viewpoint.
So now we have understood that according to wine experts, storing wine standing makes no detrimental change to either the flavor or the taste, you might be wondering if there is a time limit to storing wine upright?
How long can wine be stored upright?
According to the above research, it appears that there is no limit to the amount of time you can store wine upright.
Keeping wine on its side, while being a practice with a long history may not be necessary.
It’s also worth noting that this is all in regard to wine that has a traditional natural cork.
If your wine has a screw top or a synthetic cork, the moisture of the cork is not an issue to contend and so vertical storage would again seem to be an OK way to go.
The other advantage of wines without a cork is that screw cap wines, in contrast, do not let any air into the bottle.
This means that both white and red wines are kept far fresher, almost the same as when first bottled by the winemaker.
So, as there has been so much confusion within the industry and new ways of thinking around how wine bottles should be stored and if it’s ok to store them vertically, let’s explore a little further what the thinking is behind storing wines on their side.
Why are wines often stored horizontally?
While the idea of putting a bottle of wine on its side for long-term storage is relatively well-known, the reasoning behind it is not quite so understood.
While some people think that it is for ease of storage, and other experts might tell you it’s connected to the sediment that can develop over time, the actual reason is fairly simple.
Conventional wisdom tells us that putting a bottle of wine horizontally keeps the cork that seals the bottle moist, thanks to its constant contact with the liquid it is keeping contained.
This keeps the cork moist, and so helps to prevent it from shrinking or drying out, which supposedly would make the cork more porous. A porous cork would allow air to enter the bottle, and the oxygen in that air would cause oxidation of the wine.
At best, oxidation will damage the flavor and character of the wine, reducing its taste and changing the color. At worst, the wine will essentially turn into vinegar. This wine spoilage, or ‘corking,’ is a real issue for oenophiles who keep their bottles for a long time before drinking.
And to conclude…
So there you have it! Everything you need to know about the correct way to store wine! A little bit of myth-busting and it turns out that you can store wine upright and for a considerable period without affecting the quality of the taste or the aroma.
Wine storage is an important part of those involved in the sale of wine, right from wine merchants through to those in the hospitality industry and anyone who enjoys a glass of wine at home!
For all your commercial wine storage solutions don’t forget to check out our website for more information on how to increase turnover with wine-by-the-glass sales.