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Storing screwcapped bottles – ask Decanter

Is it more beneficial to store screwcapped bottles lying down or upright? Peter McCombie MW gives Decanter an answer.

Ask Decanter: Storing screwcapped bottles

Harry Rouse, from Hereford, asks: I’d like to add some New Zealand Pinot Noir to my wine collection (to drink and keep) and am curious with regard to screwcaps and cellar storage. Natural corks clearly benefit from contact with the wine but is this the case with screwcaps? Is it more beneficial to store them lying down or upright?

Peter McCombie MW, for Decanter replies: While alternative closures were adopted by quality-conscious producers, initially in Australia and New Zealand, because they offered freedom from cork taint, they weren’t necessarily better than corks in all respects. Manufacturers have since tried to mimic the positive attributes of a cork closure by allowing controlled oxygen permeability to facilitate maturation.

Once I’d have said storage lying down made little difference, but with modern screwcap closures like Stelvin, there is a strong argument that storing the bottles on their side does have an advantage. Grégory Patriat, Jean-Claude Boisset’s winemaker, who bottles under natural cork and screwcap, prefers to store screwcapped bottles lying down in order to have a good exchange between liquid and the air through the seal. If you are planning on drinking any wines in the next 12 months I don’t think you will find much difference, but if cellaring for longer, then lying down is the preferred option.

Peter McCombie MW is is a New Zealand-born wine consultant, writer and public speaker.


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