Should bottles be stored lying or standing?
A lot has been written about this and fortunately recent scientific research has also been done because there are too many myths and there is a kind of general thinking that bottles should be lying around. Research shows that there is no appreciable difference in the shelf life of the wine between being horizontal and being vertical.
A horizontal bottle keeps the cork moist so that it does not dry out and shrink. At least that's the theory, but science says otherwise: The air gap in a wine bottle has nearly 100 percent humidity, so the cork will never dry out as long as there is wine in the bottle. From a scientific point of view, it is therefore a myth that a cork dries out in a vertical position.
In 2005, the Australian Wine Research Institute tested this and found that the orientation of the bottle makes little difference to the wine's shelf life.
"The cork will never dry out with almost 100% humidity in the headspace, so it is a myth that you need to store a bottle on its side."
Amorim's director of R&D, Dr. Miguel Cabral (2018 study).
There are even recent scientific studies that recommend storing bottles upright, especially if the wines are stored for a long time. The continuous moisture against the cork when stored in a horizontal position for a long time affects the cork more than the 100% humidity that already exists in the bottle and this is better for the cork in the long term. Red wine can damage the cork, which is not an inert substance. It has not been shown that direct contact between liquid and cork has a (more) harmful effect on the aroma of the wine in the long term. It has been deemed possible but hardly researched.
Madera, champagne and Fino sherry are best kept upright. For long-term storage of wines with natural cork, vertical storage may well be the best storage condition.
A lot of advice on horizontal storage comes from the products of wine storage cabinets, wine counters, etc. that have an interest in this and many wine companies are talking to each other because this has been the case for centuries, but we believe more in the method Measuring is Knowing.
In summary, it does not matter from a sustainability perspective, and there is above all a reason that horizontal storage is more efficient and that most storage resources in particular are naturally based on horizontal storage. Especially in a shop setting, Vertical is better because the customer can then see the bottle better and it is therefore picked up less often, because precisely these types of movements are actually much worse.
...and besides all this, a constant temperature and no UV light are even more important for the longer storage of your wine. For that reason, Grandcruwijnen has fully air-conditioned its entire shop and warehouse and equipped it with LED lamps.
"STORING WINE ON ITS SIDE IS NONSENSE," SAYS SCIENTIST - 2018
During a discussion in Portugal last week, Cabral said that the headspace of a sealed bottle of wine was so moist that there was no need to place bottles on their side to keep the cork damp.
“The cork will never dry out with almost 100% humidity in the headspace, so it is a myth that you need to store a bottle on its side,” he said.
Continuing, he said that such humidity would ensure that the cork “won’t dry out if you store the bottle upright.”
He also said that creating moist ambient conditions during wine storage was unnecessary for bottled wine (although for barrel cellars it is important to reduce evaporation).
“The humidity of the environment around the bottle won’t have any influence, because the cork is influenced by the humidity inside the bottle,” he said, adding, “So the idea that you need to store wine in a damp cellar is another myth.”
He then stated, “The myths are falling down one by one now the cork industry has started doing studies.”
When asked later by the drinks business why wet corks in older wines are sometimes shrunken, he said that having the stopper permanently soaked by wine might actually accelerate the weakening of the cork’s cell structure.
In other words, not only is it unnecessary to keep the cork wet, it may actually be bad for the stopper.
Summing up, he said that such knowledge was nothing new in the scientific community.
“The AWRI published a paper on this back in 2005, but the problem is that people don’t read research papers, they just want the news,” he commented.
Finally, making his views clear, he stated, “The idea that storing a wine on its side to stop the cork drying out is bullsh•t.”
Previously, he recorded that 95-98% humidity in the headspace was high enough to ensure the passage of phenolics as well as taints from the cork into the wine – which would explain the presence of cork-derived TCA in a wine that had been stored upright.
As for factors that accelerate the evolution of wine in the bottle, aside from the failure of the seal – whatever the closure type – it is temperature that has the greatest affect, as higher temperatures speed up chemical reactions.
The study referenced by Cabral was published in 2005 by Skouroumounis et al from the Australian Wine Research Institute and it is entitled, ‘The impact of closure type and storage conditions on the composition, colour and flavour properties of a Riesling and a wooded Chardonnay wine during five years’ storage.
In the abstract it states “The bottle orientation during storage under the conditions of this study had little effect on the composition and sensory properties of the wines examined.”
Towards the end of the study it is noted that “temperature can have a direct effect on colour development through accelerating chemical reactions even without significant oxygen ingress.”
As for the condition of the corks used in the study, it records, “The two corks examined here differed substantially in their estimated wetness but appeared to perform similarly overall.”
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