Should I Store Red Wine Horizontally or Vertically?

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You can find all kinds of equipment for storing wine on the market to keep your red wine safe, cool and stable until you are ready to open it. From walk-in cellars to portable wine refrigerators, there is a wine storage for all types of red wine drinkers. You don't need a specific piece of equipment to store your wine, however. All you need is a flat surface so that you can lay your wine horizontally until you are ready to drink it.

Storage Specifics

Red wine must be stored at a cool 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit or below, and on a flat surface. The bottle must lay flat so that the sediment from the wine can settle evenly on one side of the bottle. The cork also must be submerged in the wine within the bottle. A slight incline is allowed, try storing the bottle by tilting the back of the bottle up and the cork end down.

Why Horizontal

The red wine bottle's position allows the wine to keep the cork moistened, which keeps the cork swollen enough to seal the wine inside the bottle. A dry cork allows oxygen into the bottle that quickly destroys the wine, turning it into a vinegar-like substance. The sediment in the wine is from the settling of the mixture. It provides a great way to tell if the bottle has been disturbed. The sediment will mix with the liquid when this happens. Laying the bottle horizontally also helps regulate the gas exchange from inside of the bottle to the outside, according to the Purdue University Extension. The gas exchange causes oxidation, but laying the bottle horizontally impedes or slows the process so that you can store the wine without worry.

For Open Wines

The cork is the important point of protection for the wine when the bottle has been opened. Make sure that the bottle is corked well to keep the oxygen out. Place the bottle horizontally so that the cork stays wet. If you plan to use the bottle a few days after opening, however, you can let the bottle stand upright.

Storage Limits

Storing the wine bottle properly does keep the wine from spoiling, but even that has its limits. Unlike fine wines that can last decades without spoiling, red wine can only last three years unopened. Open red wine that is properly refrigerated and stored horizontally can last for two weeks. When opening any bottle of red wine that has been stored longer than a few days, uncork it and let the bottle sit in room temperature for a few minutes. This is called letting the wine breathe. It allows the flavors inside to open up and "come out." Refrigerate any leftover red wine as soon as possible after opening.