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Dear Dr. Vinny,

If a bottle is stored upright, at a wine store, restaurant or at home, how long before the cork begins to dry out to the point that oxygen leaks in? Doesn't the pressure of the wine and internal humidity keep the cork adequately moist for years?

—Scott W., Chapel Hill, N.C.

Dear Scott,

Unfortunately, no. The pressure inside a bottle of sparkling wine will help keep a cork moist, but that's not the case with still wine. There are many variables that affect how quickly the drying cork will compromise the wine—the quality of the cork, how dry or humid the surroundings are, and how much temperature fluctuation there is. A few days upright is not likely to have an adverse affect. But it's just safest to store your wines horizontally, so the wine is in contact with the cork, keeping it wet and the seal good.

—Dr. Vinny

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