Log In / Join Now

Ask Dr. Vinny

Do you have a question for Dr. Vinny? Ask it here...

Dear Dr. Vinny,

At the bar I manage, we store the red wines standing up on a shelf, but they never sit there for more than a month. Is that OK?

—Matthew H., Gallup, N.M.

Dear Matthew,

I think your wines will be OK. After all, most wine shops and grocery stores also display wines standing up. I think the most important thing is that you make sure you are rotating your stock so that your wines continue to move off the shelves in a timely manner.

Conventional wisdom is that any wine topped with a cork should be stored on its side. When corks are working perfectly, they expand to fill the space in the neck of the bottle, protecting the wine from oxygen and premature aging. But if a cork starts to dry out, it can shrink and become brittle, letting air in. If a bottle is stored on its side, you can at least be sure that the part of the cork that is inside the bottle is kept wet with wine. It will also help to keep your wine in a relatively humid place.

That said, in the equation of wine storage, the most important factor is temperature. High temperatures can damage wines, and temperature fluctuation can compromise a cork as the liquid inside expands and contracts.

There’s no absolute to these things—there are so many factors, from the original, mysterious condition of the cork to the relative humidity in the room, but in general I think storing a bottle upright for a few weeks is fine. For longer-term storage, I’d look into other options.

—Dr. Vinny

Wine Basics

We break down the basics—how to taste, serve, store and more. Plus:
» Maps of major wine regions
» Grape variety characteristics

How-to Videos

Learn to taste wine like a pro, pull a cork with flair, get great wine service in a restaurant and more

Wine Spectator School: All courses are FREE for WineSpectator.com Members

Learn from the experts and get the most out of each sip. Take one of our online courses or take them all—from the ABCs of Tasting to in-depth seminars on Food Pairing, California Cabernet, Bordeaux, Tuscany, Sensory Evaluation and more.

Browse our course catalog
Check out the professional wine sales and service courses
Learn Wine Forum: Got questions? Get answers

WineRatings+ app: Download now for 340,000+ ratings.