ask dr. vinny

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.


Dear Dr. Vinny,

I received a 5-liter bottle of 2007 Rioja crianza as a gift. I assume this bottle was never stored on its side due to its size. What are the odds the cork has dried and the wine oxidized? And can I put it on its side now?

I am psyched to open it with friends, but if it’s potentially undrinkable, I would rather keep it for show.

—Russ, Conn.

Dear Russ,

That’s sometimes an issue with larger-format bottles—they’re so cool to look at, they’re often on display and not lying on their side.

Keep in mind, though, that a Rioja crianza is aged at least two years before being released. In fact, the 2009s and 2010s are the current crianzas in the market, so your 2007 really isn’t that old. I think the odds are in your favor that the wine will be showing well.

If you’re planning on storing the bottle further, I agree that it’s a good idea to store it on its side. Some wine racks can fit magnums and larger bottles, but I imagine not many people have them. You might try wine storage that’s less bottle-size-specific, like those “wine cubes”—they look like a box on its side with an X in the middle—that accommodate a variety of shapes. If you’re interested in storing the bottle on its side and displaying it, too, you could look into wall-mounted wine racks that hold a bottle by its neck parallel to the wall. I know that some will support a magnum while still looking pretty nifty, but you might need some custom work for your 5-liter trophy.

—Dr. Vinny


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