Can switching my wine bottles in storage from upright to on their side cause them any damage?

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Dear Dr. Vinny,

I have a few bottles of wine that have been stored upright for about five years. Is it OK for me to place them on their side? Or will moving them cause more damage?

—Jeff, Hedgesville, W.V.

Dear Jeff,

You won't damage a wine simply by moving it from one position to another. That said, I wouldn’t recommend strapping it to a mechanical bull—vibration introduces energy into a bottle of wine, and that might affect its aging process.

For most wines and most people, the concern with moving a wine around has to do with its sediment. As wines age, gravity will move the sediment to the bottom of the bottle, however the wine is situated. If you move the wine to a different position, the sediment will likely be disturbed and it can take a few hours or days until it’s settled again. Drinking a wine with all that sediment floating around isn't dangerous or harmful, but it might be unpleasant to have that gritty texture in your mouth.

If you have a choice between storing your wine upright or on its side, especially if it is sealed with a cork, I recommend keeping the bottles on their side. That way the wine is in contact with the cork on the inside, which will help the cork from drying out and possibly letting more air inside.

—Dr. Vinny

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