Wine Making 101: Why Store Bottles Horizontally After Bottling?

storing wine bottles on their side - Wine Kitz Pickering

Curiosities abound in the world of wine making – and one question we get asked all the time is: why do I need to store my bottles on their side, after bottling?

First Things First: Leave Bottles Upright for 5-10 Days Before Storing Them On Their Sides

When you cork your bottles, the corks and contents are lightly pressurized by the force of squeezing the cork into the neck of the bottle. Leaving bottles upright for a few days allows the corks to re-expand and settle before you put the bottles on their side. Skip this step, and you might return to find some bottles have leaked or even ejected their corks!

It’s All About That Cork

Cork is a natural wood product and has earned its millennia-old reputation as wine-stopper-of-choice because it provides an impermeable seal to keep out particulate that will degrade wine while remaining ever so slightly breathable to allow slow oxygen exchange. In order to provide this well-balanced seal, the cork has to stay wet. If the cork dries out, it shrinks and becomes brittle. Over time, this can cause it to disintegrate and even decompose. Bad news for wine inside the bottle!

Storing bottles on their side keeps wine in contact with the bottom of the cork. This keeps the cork wet, inside the bottle, maintaining the seal you need to protect your wine while preventing leaks and premature oxidation.

What About Screw-Top Bottles, or Bottles With Synthetic Corks?

The side-storage rule doesn’t apply to these bottles, so feel free to store them however is most convenient. Because synthetic stoppers don’t need to stay wet in order to maintain their seal, it matters less which way you store them after bottling.

Other Wine Making Questions?

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