Log In / Join Now

Ask Dr. Vinny



Do you have a question for Dr. Vinny? Ask it here...

Dear Dr. Vinny,

Is it OK if my wine rack tilts slightly up? Is there a danger that the corks will dry out?

—Peter E., U.K.

Dear Peter,

Let me just review the generally accepted idea that wines with corks are best stored and aged on their side, so that the cork remains in contact with the wine. If a cork dries out, it can allow air in and cause the wine to oxidize and prematurely age. It's best practice to store wine bottles horizontally.

I’ve seen two ways bottle racking can tilt, however. The first is if you were to put an imaginary wedge underneath the back end of the bottle, forcing the liquid toward the neck. It certainly helps the cork stay moist, but that can cause the sediment to collect in the neck of the bottle, which is the place where you typically don’t want it.

I’ve seen more racks that are designed to tilt the other way, like the one you've described, with the neck slightly elevated. I’m talking a slight tilt—no more than 15 degrees. It’s still enough to keep the cork fully or mostly in contact with the wine, but it does two other things: prevent the bottles from sliding out of the shelves in the case of a mild earthquake or other physical disturbance, and encourage the sediment to settle down near the bottom corner of the bottle.

Bottom line: A slight tilt is OK, but any more than a 15-degree tilt and you’d need to leave those shelves for your screwcapped wines, or wines that you're planning to drink in the near-term.

—Dr. Vinny

Wine Basics

We break down the basics—how to taste, serve, store and more. Plus:
» Maps of major wine regions
» Grape variety characteristics

How-to Videos

Learn to taste wine like a pro, pull a cork with flair, get great wine service in a restaurant and more

Wine Spectator School: All courses are FREE for WineSpectator.com Members

Learn from the experts and get the most out of each sip. Take one of our online courses or take them all—from the ABCs of Tasting to in-depth seminars on Food Pairing, California Cabernet, Bordeaux, Tuscany, Sensory Evaluation and more.

Browse our course catalog
Check out the professional wine sales and service courses
Learn Wine Forum: Got questions? Get answers


WineRatings+ app: Download now for 340,000+ ratings.