Tag Archives: wine storage

Do I Need to Store the Bottle Sideways?


Question from Marla: If the bottle has a plastic cork or a screw cap do I still need to store it sideways?

Reply: Hi, Marla. Thanks for writing! If you’re not sure what kind of seal it is, it’s smart to store the bottle sideways. But, if you know it’s a screw cap or a plastic cork you can store it any old way you want.

Cork-finished bottles need to be stored sideways or upside down to keep the cork swollen with wine so the seal is tight. For any other seal, don’t worry about it. As long as the bottle’s in a cool, dark place it can stand up or whatever.

How do y’all feel about these newer closures? Are you OK with screw caps? I find my attitude has evolved to the point that when I buy a bottle from New Zealand, and it’s the rare one that actually has a cork, I’m annoyed at the extra work it takes to pull the darned thing out! I just want to crack that bottle open! Who’d a thunk me or anyone would feel this way 10 years ago?!

Let me know if you want to see a post on the advantages and disadvantages of the various closures.

I wrote a more detailed article on wine storage awhile back if you’d like more information. Happy cork popping, screw-cap cracking, whatever it takes to get the bottle open – go for it! Cheers!

Send me your wine question and I’ll get back to you in a jiffy!

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How To Store Your Wine


We talked about aging Champagne and I realized it might be good to talk about how to store your wine.

The first thing to recognize is that wine isn’t like a bottle of scotch – it continues to change in the bottle.

The aging at the winery is relatively brief. The wine changes so rapidly in the small barrel that it would be worn out by more than months in the barrel for whites or a year or two for reds. So, bottle aging takes over from there.

A few months back we talked about which wines to age so I’ll just recap that most wines don’t improve with age and the best candidates are high-quality red wines and dessert wines. But the quality of the storage conditions has everything to do with how well the wine ages. 

Fortunately, the conditions are the same for all wines: reds, whites, bubblies and dessert wines. You see photos of dusty bottles aging away in musty old cellars because it works. The wine wants to be kept in a cool, dark place.

What does that mean? The temperature should be between 45 and 65 F with minimal fluctuation. Slight, slow changes from season to season won’t matter much, but big temperature swings can be very damaging. So, don’t keep your wine in the kitchen unless it’s for the short term! I can’t tell you how many wine racks I’ve seen sitting on top of the fridge where, of course, the heat rises. 

If you have a basement, that’s terrific. Or, maybe you can insulate a closet or the area under the stairs. Wine fridges are great if you can swing it. 

Cork-finished bottles need to be stored sideways so that the cork is swollen with wine and provides a tight seal. For plastic corks and other alternatives it doesn’t matter.

So, storage isn’t too complicated at all. Just keep in mind that the wine can get too old! Don’t put a special bottle on such a high pedestal that there’s no occasion good enough for it. I’m a huge fan of the great concept started by the terrific wine writers Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher – it’s called Open That Bottle Night and the point is to have a fabulous meal and open special bottles you’ve been saving for a real occasion with your friends. Traditionally, it’s in February, but no need to wait until then 🙂 Cheers!

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My Wine Turned Gold


Question from Mark: I bought four bottles of Chardonnay several months ago. They looked light yellow at the time. Now, one of them has turned gold and the others are still pale. Is that gold bottle all right? 

Reply: Hi, Mark. Thanks for writing! I’ll tell ya – color matters. If all four bottles had turned deep yellow or gold I’d assume they’re getting old and you better drink them. Most whites start out quite pale and deepen with age. 

But this is different and there a a few different possibilities. When pale yellow wine suddenly turns gold something has happened to make it oxidize. The most likely reason for oxidation is a leaky cork. Check the fill height on the gold one. Is the bottle as full as the others? If not, some of the wine has leaked out and the air exposure oxidized the wine. If it’s spoiled it won’t hurt you, so go ahead and try it. If it tastes good, down the hatch! If it tastes weird you have every right to take it back – the cork failed to do its job.  A little oxidation kills the fruit and leaves the wine flat. A lot of oxidation and you have something like vinegar or maybe fingernail polish remover.   

Let me ask you some other questions. Did you have the wine stored in a cool, dark place? If it’s been too warm, all of the bottles may be suffering and that one just shows it the most. If the wine is in a place where it’s exposed to light, that can also be damaging – maybe that bottle got more light than the rest? 

No matter what kind of wine it needs to be stored at a fairly constant 45 to 65 F  – no big temperature swings –  and keep it sideways if it has a cork. It should be protected from light. Leaving it in a case box works well. It’s okay if the bottles are nose down. What you don’t want is nose up. Continue reading


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