Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs. You can also follow me on Twitter: @AskDrVinny.
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Dear Dr. Vinny,
Due to the shape of some bottles and the size of my wine racks, some bottles are not 100 percent sideways, and the wine does not touch the cork. Will it affect the wine in the long term?
—Eric C., Montreal
It might, especially if these bottles are being stored for more than a couple of years. Keeping the bottle on its side so that the wine touches the cork means that one side of the cork will stay wet, which can prevent the cork from drying up. If a cork gets too dry, it can start to shrivel and let some air into the bottle, causing premature aging and oxidation.
I also have some bottles that don’t fit in my racks, so I just store them in a case box on their sides (you could also store them upside down, but that might tempt fate and leaky bottles, plus it puts any sediment right at the neck of the bottle). I have also picked up some wooden wine boxes from a wine shop, where the bottles can rest on their sides, which is a more handsome way to store them when they don’t fit in the racking.
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