Why is Wine Stored on Its Side? 3 Shrewd Reasons

Wine enthusiasts are always informed to store wines on their side. But why is wine stored on its side? And how do we store the 10% of the wine in the world that needs to be aged or the other 90% that is consumed immediately after production?

Wine is stored on its side to keep the cork from drying out by keeping it moist and also to distinguish if sediment is being formed in the wine bottle before decanting by having the label facing up. Drying out of the cork can cause it to shrink thus leading to oxidation by letting air into the bottle.

Moreover, a dry cork can crumble when you are removing it spoiling the wine. Therefore, you should store wine on its side if you are aging your wine, or just enjoying it in its current state.

However, some people state that storing wine on its side is a waste of space and money since it won’t keep corks from drying out. But, looking at the benefits, we recommend storing wine on its side.

The other thing that you should really keep in mind is the temperature your wine is stored at. Heat can spoil your wine faster as compared to drying out the wine due to storing the wine upright.

Why is wine stored on its side?

Why is wine stored on its side?

Wine is stored on its side to keep the cork from drying out by keeping it moist and also to distinguish if sediment is being formed in the wine bottle before decanting by having the label facing up. Drying out of the cork can cause it to shrink thus leading to oxidation by letting air into the bottle.

Wine bottles that are stored in an upright position for aging or immediate consumption mean that the cork is only exposed to air from the inside and outside. For the best results store your wine horizontally in a wine rack. However, when stored on the side, the cork is exposed to the wine, and air on the outside.

Therefore, the wine cork is unlikely to dry out. Drying out of the wine is one of the main causes of wine spoilage since the wine is exposed to air.

Exposure of wine to air means that the oxygen in the air can oxidize your wine. This process changes both the color and flavor of your wine. With prolonged wine exposure to air, it is likely to have a vinegar flavor.

Thus, a horizontal bottle keeps the cork moist by ensuring that there is wine in contact with the cork, preventing all this. Storing wine on the side is also a very efficient use of space. More bottles of wine can occupy a smaller space.

White wine Storage

All wines with a cork should be stored on the side. This ensures that the cork is moist and thus ensures there is no premature aging.

For white wine, the unopened wine bottle should be stored in a horizontal position in a cool and dark place with a consistent temperature range of between 45 to 65 °F. The best place to store it is in a basement or closet until it is ready to be consumed.

In addition, the white wine storage area should also have controlled humidity. An environment with 50 to 75% humidity is recommended for the wine storage rack.

If your white wine is not topped with a cork, then it is not a must that you store it on the side. Actually, if the bottle is topped with a screw top, as indicated below we recommend storing it vertically or upright.

How to store red wine, white wine, champagne and dessert wine

Red wine Storage

If your red wine is topped with a cork, then we recommend storing it on the side. However, if it has a screw top then you can either store it horizontally or vertically.

We recommend storing red wine in a horizontal position for two reasons. First, to keep the cork moist which prevents the shrinking of the cork that can lead to oxidation of the wine. Second, the wine enables the wine sediments to settle in a place you can see before decanting since the label is facing up.

New studies are showing that you can store red wine in an upright position for up to 5 years when unopened. Storing the wine in an upright position according to these studies will not after the aroma or flavor of your red wine. With these findings, the conclusion is horizontal wine storage racks are a waste of money and space.

The main thing to note is that unopened red wine should be stored in a dark and dry place to preserve its great taste and color. The other thing to consider is to try and entirely keep out of light from the wine. To do this you can keep the wine in a box or wrapped in a cloth.

Some people also get cabinets with solid UV-resistant doors.

Champagne storage position

Champagne has a lot of pressure that ensures it pops when opened, maintains the integrity of the seal, and also keeps the cork moist. Because of the internal pressure, it does not matter the angle that you store the champagne bottle.

Thus, champagne can be stored horizontally (on the side) or upright (vertically). This is quite different from other types of wine that have a side long-term storage recommendation.

You can store champagne upright stored upright for 1 month or less. However, even as you store the champagne, ensure that it is away from bright light and in a cool, dry place.

The temperature for the champagne storage area should be in a constant range. This is why champagne is stored in a dedicated wine fridge, cellar with temperature and humidity control, or magnums.

Related article: How to Store Wine for a Long Time

Dessert wine storage

Dessert wine has more sugar as compared to other types of wines. This makes the wine last longer after opening. However, unopened dessert wine has a ritual in its storage. This is because the shelf life of unopened dessert wines varies depending on their storage.

You should store dessert wine on the side at a temperature of between 50-55°F. The recommended storage is either semi-horizontally or at a 45° angle with the cork facing the ground. This storage ensures that the cork is always moist thus making it not shrink over time which can cause oxidation.

As discussed, the cork is a natural (non-synthetic) material, which can dry out. If the cork shrinks, air can sip into the dessert wine bottle because it becomes porous. The oxygen in the air can cause the oxidation of your wine.

The storage gives you a chance to enjoy the dessert wines in the recommended small glasses while being treasured like a glass of Scotch. This is because the longer you store the dessert wine, the more concentrated and richer it becomes.

Storing wine barrels on their side

Wine barrels can also be stored on their side just like wine bottles. To store barrels on the side, you need to support the, with timber or metal.

When you store wine barrels on the side, you increase air circulation and space. The upright storage on the other hand adds pressure to the barrel part that is not best suited for the pressure. This increases the angel’s share.

Racking of the barrels thus reduces the pressure in the barrel staves. Too much pressure on the staves can cause wine leakage. This is something that several distillers have come to learn after some brewing cycles.

Oak barrel gives you durable and stable wine with a more full flavor. This is by allowing the wine fruit aroma to change to a more complex wine aroma and also influences the taste. Wine stored in an oak barrel helps to produce excellent wine by reaction of the barrel and wine through a series of chemical processes.

Should screw-top wine be stored on its side?

There is no advantage when you store screw-top wine on its side as compared to storing them upright. Thus, we do not recommend storing them either vertically/ upright or horizontally.

However, storing them vertically is better for screw-top wine. There is no need to store the screw-top wine bottle on its side since there is no cork to keep wet as recommended in corked wines.

You should store the screw-top sealed wine bottles vertically for the following reasons:

  • Storing them vertically saves precious bin space in the cellar: We all know that there is limited space in the cellar. To ensure that you fit several bottles in the cellar you can keep them upright.
  • Synthetic liners used in the screw top sealing may impact the flavor of the wine but this is not scientifically proven. This might have proven a challenge in the older times but now the liners are made from highly inert, medical-grade synthetics.
  • Serving convenience: We all know that fine wines are either lightly filtered or not filtered at all in addition to being stored in the cellar for an extended period of time. Therefore, you may get some sandy deposit in the bottle that sinks to the bottom if stored vertically.

Most of the fine wines that are meant for cellaring are now sealed with screw caps.

How long can wine be stored upright?

According to the older school of thought, the wine that has a cork top needed to be stored on the side. This meant that for winemakers and even at home the wine should have been stored in a horizontal position.

However, new studies have indicated that you can store any type of wine in an upright position for up to five years or more depending on the wine. The same studies have indicated that keeping the cork moist by keeping it in exposure to wine is not necessary. Still, the humidity in the wine bottle is enough to maintain the integrity of the cork.

Moreover, storing the bottle on the side may even accelerate the cork’s degeneration leading to oxidation. The wine contains alcohol and other components that with prolonged exposure can degrade the cork albeit slowly.

Therefore, wine stored in an upright position will retain its aroma and taste for up to 5 years or more depending on other factors. Therefore, with these current studies, you do not need to invest in a wine rack that stores wine in a horizontal position.

The most important factors to consider in wine storage are the temperatures, humidity, and aeration. Heat and humidity can easily destroy your wine chemical balance.


Even though current evidence educates us that storing wine on the side has not added value to the integrity of the cork which means subsequent wine oxidation, it is important to follow in the footsteps of our ancestors.

Therefore, all unopened wines with a cork should be stored on the side. This way, you will be keeping the wine storage cork moist. Keeping the cork moist ensures that it does not become porous to the air which can cause oxidation.

We have discussed how to store red wine, white wine, dessert wine, and champagne for your information and decision-making. The general rule of thumb is to store all unopened wines in a cool, dark, and dry place.