Should I Store Red Wine Horizontally or Vertically?

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Merlot, pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon and sangiovese are just a few of the most popular red wine varieties. They are derived from dark-skinned grapes that are aged one to two years before bottling. Pairing them with a fine cut of beef is a traditional way to enjoy red wine, even more enjoyable if the wine is aged to perfection. Horizontal and vertical storage has much to do with aging perfection and which position you choose depends on when you will pop the cork.

Long-Term Aging

  • Storing red wine bottles horizontally -- on their sides -- is best when long-term aging is part of the plan. According to author and founder of Windows on the World Wine School, Kevin Zraly, horizontal storage at a 10-degree angle keeps the wine in close contact with the cork, preventing air from entering the bottle. Oxygen in the air can compromise the integrity of the wine and dry out the cork.

Short-Term Aging

  • Reserve vertical storage -- the standing up position -- for bottles of red wine that you plan to drink in the near future. Vertical storage is also ideal for wine bottles with alternative closures, such as screw caps and plastic or glass corks, because these materials do not dry out over time like traditional corks. Because they are not porous, they are also less likely to allow air into the red wine bottle.

Storage Location

  • Whether you store your red wine bottles in the horizontal or vertical position, proper storage is essential. A dark area with a temperature between 45 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit, and a humidity level between 50 and 80 percent, is ideal. Colder temperatures can cause the cork to dry out and warmer temperatures cook red wine. High humidity encourages mold and sunny locations will make your red wine age too soon.

Open Bottles

  • Once a bottle of wine is open, aging is no longer an option, rendering the horizontal or vertical debate moot. Any wine left in the bottle will benefit from refrigerator storage after pressing the cork back into the bottle. A bottle of red wine keeps for approximately three days in the refrigerator. If you won't drink the wine within three days, pour it into ice cube trays and freeze for later use in your favorite recipes.

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