There’s a good reason why wine racks lean forward. It’s all about keeping that vintage wine in good condition. Essentially any wine that has a natural cork as its stopper is in danger of allowing air into the bottle which causes the wine to spoil. The cork will dry out over time and shrinks-allowing air to seep in. If a bottle is slightly tilted, however, the wine will make contact with the cork and keep it moist. This has the effect of expanding the cork making an even better seal in the neck.
The wine expert Jancis Robson explains “that it is better for wine to store bottles at an angle, which ensures that both wine and the air bubble are in contact with the cork. This will keep the cork damp but allow any expansion and contraction of the air bubble due to temperature variation to result in air, and not wine, passing through the cork. When bottles are stored horizontally the distance of the air bubble from the cork means that when higher temperatures cause it to expand, wine may be forced out between the cork and bottle-neck. Then when the temperature drops, the air bubble contracts to form a vacuum and oxygen may be drawn into the bottle”
Sparkling or champagne wine is similar, in the sense that if it is allowed to oxygenate, all the bubbles will escape and you will be left with flat fizz.
Of course if you are not laying down wine but drinking it within a short time of buying it, there isn’t any need to worry, as the cork won’t have had time to dry out.
What Angle Should Wine Be Stored at?
So you’ve invested in a few bottles and want to keep them in optimum condition. The angle to keep them at is fairly crucial. This is because the longer you store a wine the more sediment builds in the bottle. Sediment is made from the organic matter such as grape skin in the wine and over time this builds up and isn’t pleasant if drunk.
If your bottle is tipped up too much this sediment can run down to the neck and sit there – which won’t make for a pleasant first sip. The general rule is no more than a 10% angle. Any more than this and the bottles may well slide out.
Having the bottles lying at a slight angle also means the label is easier to read – so when you are looking for that 1955 Chateau Neuf de Pape to impress your guests, it won’t take all night to find.
How Often Should Wine Be Turned?
In order to keep the cork moist all over, any bottles lying down horizontally should be turned regularly. The recommendation is one quarter every few months. However, this is only the case if your wine rack isn’t tilted.
A tilted wine rack allows the wine in a bottle to cover the whole cork and so there is no need to turn it . It has also been thought that turning the wine helps to stop a buildup of sediment. However, the current thinking is to leave it well alone and even if sediment does build up in an aged wine it can be dealt with by being decanted properly.
Different Types Of Leaning Wine Racks
If a leaning wine rack is something you aspire to you will need to decide what sort is best for your home.There are various designs of leaning wine racks available, from free-standing to wall mounted, table top or decorative.
You will need to consider what makes a good wine rack as well as the available space you have and where you want to site it. Stackable wine racks are a great idea as you can buy more as your collection grows. Take a look below at some of the different types available.
Wine racks with a tilted display
You may have come across wine racks that have a section which allows the bottles to be tilted upwards, rather than downwards. This is quite common in professional cellars like the one above .This is not in order to store the wine effectively, but to show off your prize vintages to best effect.
DIY Leaning Wine Rack
If you have only just bought yourself a non-leaning wine rack and are reading this article with regret, don’t despair. By placing some small wedges under the back of your rack you will be able to get a tilt that will work just as well. If it is a wall mounted rack you could fix it at a 10 degree angle for the same effect.
Tilting wine racks certainly aren’t the norm right now, but they are a more functional choice to go with. Ultimately, you are fine going for a wine rack that doesn’t lean forward, if it’s not left sitting for extended periods of time or if it doesn’t have a real cork. If either of these points do apply to you though, we would suggest investing in a wine rack that leans forward, otherwise you’ll be spending a lot of time flushing vintage wine down the drain or regularly turning the bottles to prevent sediment build up.