Should certain types of wine be stored upright rather than on their sides?

Ask Dr Vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.

Dear Dr. Vinny,

For longer-term cellaring, can you tell me what bottles of wine should be stored in an upright position? I have listened to many conflicting perspectives over the years, but most often hear that older vintage Madeira and Champagne should be kept upright to prevent cork deterioration and loss of elasticity.

—Eugene, New York

Dear Eugene,

Any time a wine is topped with a cork, it should be stored on its side. A cork is used as a topper because it expands in the neck of the bottle to protect a wine from oxygen. But if the cork starts to dry out, it will start to let air inside, causing premature oxidation. If you store a wine on its side, you can make certain that that cork remains moist (and expanded) at least on that side. Storing your wine in a humid area will help the rest of the cork.

I can understand why Champagne and Madeira are sometimes listed as exceptions to the rules. Sparkling wines—which have about 70 to 90 pounds of pressure per square inch in a sealed bottle because of all that carbon dioxide—are naturally more humid inside. Madeira is a long-lived fortified wine that’s basically oxidized already, so there is less concern about it getting further oxidized. But there is no particular advantage to keeping a bottle stored right side up, so most producers (and most wine advice columnists) recommending storing all bottles—even ones with glass, plastic or metal toppers—on their side.

—Dr. Vinny

Closures Collecting Storage Fortified Wines Sparkling Wines France Champagne Ask Dr. Vinny

More In Dr. Vinny

Are collectible wines still collectible after the wine has gone bad?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny talks to Penfolds winemaker Peter Gago about 50-year-old …

May 17, 2019

Why aren't bottles stored on their sides at wine stores?

Wine's Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains why wine bottles need to be stored on their …

May 15, 2019

Is there a polite way to tell a winemaker that I'm not enjoying their wines?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny suggests a few etiquette tips for kindly declining an …

May 13, 2019

Do you swirl a glass of sparkling wine?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains why there's no need to swirl a glass of …

May 10, 2019

Is it OK to ask guests to bring expensive wine to a party?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny talks party etiquette.

May 8, 2019

What's the difference between Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc wine?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains the origins of the Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet …

May 6, 2019
WineRatings+

WineRatings+

Xvalues

Xvalues

Restaurant Search

Restaurant Search