Why Is Wine Stored Horizontally On Its Side?

David J Sharp
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Have you ever wondered why wine bottles are stored horizontally on their sides? It may seem like an arbitrary decision, but it’s actually a crucial aspect of wine storage. The way that wine is stored can impact its quality and taste, so understanding why wine is stored horizontally is key to preserving your favorite bottles.

The primary reason that wine is stored horizontally is to maintain the moisture in the cork. Cork is a natural material and can dry out if not kept moist. When a wine bottle is stored upright, the cork can dry out from the lack of contact with the wine, allowing air to seep into the bottle and spoil the wine.

By storing the bottle horizontally, the wine keeps the cork moist and prevents air exposure, ensuring that the wine retains its quality and taste.

The Importance of Cork Moisture

Keeping the cork moist by laying it down helps preserve the delicate flavors and aromas of your favorite vintage. This is because the cork expands when it dries out, which can cause it to shrink, allowing air to seep into the bottle and oxidize the wine.

Cork expansion can also cause the cork to crack, which can lead to wine spoilage or contamination by bacteria. Additionally, laying wine bottles on their sides allows for maximum aging potential.

This is because it keeps the wine in contact with the cork, which helps to maintain its moisture levels and prevent it from drying out. By doing so, you can ensure that your wine ages gracefully and develops complex flavors over time.

However, it’s important to note that not all wines benefit from long-term aging, so be sure to check the aging potential of your particular bottle before storing it on its side.

Preventing Air Exposure

As a connoisseur of the finer things in life, you know that a treasure that’s left out in the open air will quickly lose its shine. That’s why you keep your secrets close and your prized possessions hidden away, just like wine must be kept on its side to prevent air from spoiling its flavor.

When wine is first created, it is often barrel-aged, which allows the wine to breathe through the porous walls of the barrel. However, once the wine is bottled, it is sealed with a cork, which prevents air from entering the bottle and spoiling the wine.

The design of the wine bottle plays an important role in preventing air exposure. By storing the wine on its side, the wine stays in contact with the cork, which helps to maintain its moisture. A dry cork can crack and allow air to enter the bottle, which can lead to oxidation and spoilage.

By storing the wine horizontally, the wine is also able to evenly distribute sediment that may have formed during the aging process. Maintaining the proper storage conditions for wine is crucial for preserving its quality and ensuring that it remains enjoyable for years to come.

Maintaining Wine Quality

To ensure your cherished vintage maintains its optimal taste and aroma, it’s essential to take the necessary steps in maintaining its quality.

Storing wine horizontally on its side is one such step that should not be overlooked. This is because it helps to maintain wine quality in the following ways:

  1. Prevents oxygen exposure: Storing wine horizontally helps to keep the cork moist and in contact with the wine, preventing oxygen from entering the bottle and causing oxidation.

  2. Maintains ideal temperature: Storing wine on its side allows for even distribution of the wine’s temperature, which is crucial for aging potential.

  3. Prevents sediment buildup: Over time, wine sediment can accumulate in the bottle. Storing wine horizontally can help to prevent sediment from settling in one place, making it easier to pour without disturbing the sediment.

  4. Maximizes storage space: Storing wine horizontally allows for more bottles to be stored in a smaller space, making it easier to organize and store.

While storing wine horizontally is a critical factor in maintaining wine quality, it is just the first step in long-term storage considerations.

Long-Term Storage Considerations

If you want to ensure your beloved vintage stays in top-notch condition for years to come, there are a few long-term storage considerations you should keep in mind.

First and foremost, you need to make sure the wine cellar temperature is within the ideal range of 45-65 degrees Fahrenheit. This range promotes slow and steady aging potential, allowing the wine to develop its complex flavors and aromas over time.

Additionally, you should also monitor the humidity levels to maintain the proper cork moisture content. A dry cork can cause air to seep into the bottle, spoiling the wine prematurely.

Another critical factor to consider when storing wine for the long haul is the bottle orientation. As you may already know, wine is stored horizontally on its side. This method helps keep the cork moist, preventing air from entering the bottle and oxidizing the wine.

The scientific explanation for horizontal storage lies in the cork’s ability to expand and contract in response to temperature changes. When the wine is stored on its side, the liquid keeps the cork moist, allowing it to maintain a tight seal. This seal ensures that the wine ages gracefully, preserving its delicate balance of flavors and aromas.

Scientific Explanation for Horizontal Storage

Just like a baby held close to its mother’s chest, a wine bottle nestled on its side maintains a tight seal, preserving its unique taste and aroma as it ages gracefully over time.

But why is horizontal storage so important for wine? The answer lies in the science behind how wine ages and the impact of gravity and bottle shape.

Here are three reasons why wine is stored horizontally on its side:

  • Gravity effect: Wine is typically sealed with a cork, which can dry out and shrink when exposed to air. When stored horizontally, the liquid inside the bottle keeps the cork moist, preventing air from seeping in and spoiling the wine.

  • Vertical storage can cause the cork to dry out, leading to oxidation and spoilage.

  • Bottle shape impact: The shape of a wine bottle can also impact how it is stored. Bordeaux-style bottles, with their tall, straight sides and deep punt, are ideal for horizontal storage. The punt, or indentation on the bottom of the bottle, provides a stable resting point, while the straight sides prevent sediment from settling on the cork.

  • Burgundy-style bottles, on the other hand, have sloping shoulders and a shallower punt, making them less ideal for horizontal storage.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does the temperature of the storage environment affect wine preservation?

When it comes to wine preservation, the temperature of the storage environment is crucial.

If you’re wondering whether to store your wine in the cellar or fridge, the answer is: it depends.

Generally, red wines should be stored at around 55°F to 65°F, whereas white wines should be kept at cooler temperatures between 49°F to 55°F.

If you’re short on storage space and need to keep your wine in the fridge, make sure to let it warm up to room temperature before serving.

In terms of storage position, keeping your wine upright can cause the cork to dry out, leading to oxidation and spoilage.

Therefore, it’s best to store wine at a slanted angle or horizontally on its side, which helps keep the cork moist and maintain the quality of the wine over time.

What is the ideal humidity level for storing wine?

You might be surprised to learn that the ideal humidity level for storing wine is between 50% and 80%. This is because too little humidity can cause corks to dry out, which can lead to oxidation and spoilage of the wine.

On the other hand, too much humidity can cause mold and mildew to grow on the labels and packaging. Additionally, maintaining the proper humidity level can also have a positive impact on the benefits of decanting.

Decanting allows the wine to breathe and release its aromas and flavors, but if the humidity is too low, the wine can evaporate too quickly and lose some of its complexity. It’s also important to note that the quality of the cork plays a crucial role in wine preservation, as a faulty cork can let in air and spoil the wine.

Are there any types of wine that should not be stored horizontally?

When it comes to storing wine, there are certain transportation concerns to consider. If a bottle is stored vertically for extended periods of time, the cork can dry out and shrink, allowing air to leak into the bottle and spoil the wine.

This is why wine is typically stored horizontally, allowing the wine to come into contact with the cork and keeping it moist. However, there are certain types of wine that should not be stored horizontally due to the aging effects it can have on the wine.

For example, white wines and sparkling wines should be stored upright to prevent the wine from coming into contact with the cork for too long, as this can cause the wine to lose its flavor and fizz. Ultimately, it’s important to know the specific needs of the wine you’re storing to ensure it maintains its quality over time.

How does the age of the wine affect the need for horizontal storage?

Imagine you’re a wine enthusiast and you’ve just purchased a bottle of vintage wine that you can’t wait to savor. Now, the question arises: how do you store it?

When it comes to wine storage options, one of the most common and effective methods is horizontal storage. The aging potential of wine is directly related to how well it’s stored, and horizontal storage can offer a number of benefits.

First, it keeps the cork moist and prevents it from drying out, which can lead to oxidation and spoilage. Second, it allows the sediment to settle at the bottom of the bottle, making it easier to pour.

However, it’s important to note that the age of the wine can affect the need for horizontal storage. Younger wines typically don’t require as much aging, so they can be stored upright or at a slight angle. On the other hand, older wines with longer aging potential should always be stored horizontally to ensure they age properly and maintain their quality.

What are some alternative methods for storing wine besides horizontal storage?

Looking for wine storage alternatives? Consider vertical wine racks.

These racks store wine bottles vertically, making them perfect for small spaces. Not only do they save space, but they also prevent the corks from drying out, which can cause the wine to spoil.

Vertical wine racks are available in a variety of materials, including wood, metal, and acrylic. Some models even come with built-in temperature control systems to help preserve the wine’s flavor and aroma.

Whether you’re a casual wine drinker or a collector, vertical wine racks offer a stylish and practical solution for storing your wine collection.


Well done, you now know the importance of storing wine horizontally. By keeping the cork moist, you prevent air exposure, and maintain the quality of your wine.

When it comes to long-term storage, this is especially important. Remember, the scientific explanation for why wine is stored horizontally is due to the way the cork interacts with the wine.

By keeping the cork wet, you prevent it from drying out and shrinking, which could lead to air exposure and ultimately spoilage. So, next time you’re storing your wine, make sure to lay it down on its side for the best possible outcome.

David J Sharp is a wine equipment expert, having previously worked with some of the best wine cooler manufacturers within the USA. Today he works as a full-time wine cooler and wine cellar consultant for small and large clients alike. You can find out more about LoveCraftWines here.

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