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Dear Dr. Vinny,
I’ve heard that you should frequently rotate stored wine to prevent sediment from happening, and that it also keeps the cork from drying out. Is this true? Should you rotate your stored wine?
—Maria, St. Charles, Ill.
No, that’s not true. Sediment is liable to happen no matter how your wine is stored. Sediment is sometimes made up of stuff that isn’t filtered out of wine, such as dead yeast cells, tiny bits of grapes and seeds, tartrates and polymers. It’s also a byproduct of aging wine, the result of phenolic molecules combining to form tannin polymers that fall out of the liquid. Or, if you’d rather think of it: science. Either way, it has nothing to do with moving a bottle of wine or not.
I advise against rotating bottles. If you keep the bottles still, you can then let the sediment collect on one side of the bottle, which down the road makes it easier to separate the wine from the gunk. If it’s all mixed in, you’re looking at a cloudier, grittier glass of wine.
Some of the confusion about rotating bottles may arise because when sparkling wine is made in the traditional method, there’s an intricate process called “riddling” where the bottles are systematically rotated to consolidate the sediment after the wine’s secondary fermentation. During this process, the sediment eventually ends up in the neck of the bottle, and then this “plug” of sediment is frozen and removed in the process of disgorging. If you’re not disgorging, you shouldn’t rotate.
As far as keeping the corks from drying out, this is why you should store your wine on its side. You’ll notice that when a bottle is on its side, the liquid is in contact with the bottom of the cork. Rotating a bottle doesn’t change or improve that contact.
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