Corks and humidity

You store wine bottles horizontally in order to keep the cork damp, thus preventing it from drying out and ruining the wine, right?

Poppycock, according to Dr. Miguel Cabral, the director of research and development for Amorim, the Portuguese cork company that is the largest cork producer in the world. According to Cabral, vertical or horizontal bottle storage makes no difference when it comes to cork performance.

“The cork will never dry out with almost 100 percent humidity in the headspace, so it is a myth you need to store a bottle on its side,” according to Cabral, quoted in a recent article in The Drinks Business. “The humidity of the environment around the bottle won’t have any influence, because the cork is influenced by the humidity inside the bottle.”

The Australian Wine Research Institute came to the same conclusion back in 2005. Their research paper noted: “Bottle orientation during storage under the conditions of this study had little effect on the composition and sensory properties of the wines examined.”

Now, there are advantages to horizontal storage even if cork preservation is not one of them. Horizontal bottles obviously take up less vertical space. They are easier to identify—no need to pull out bottles in front to see what is behind.

Visually, horizontal storage is more pleasing, presenting illusion of more labels and more volume even when the number of bottles is the same. In practical marketing terms, merchants tell you people perceive bottles presented horizontally to be higher quality and, thus, able to command a higher price.

Bottom line: horizontal storage and presentation of your wine collection has advantages, but rescuing corks from desiccation is not one of them.

Tasting notes:

• Left Coast Pinot Gris Willamette Valley The Orchard 2017: Easy-going pour; fruit flavors are discrete but nicely layered with finish that graciously exits the palate stage. $15-18 Link to my review

• St. Michael-Eppan Anger Pinot Grigio Südtirol-Alto Adige DOC 2016: Creamy, rich, evolves into more sophistication in glass. $19-25 Link to my review

• Lucas & Lewellen Estate Vineyards Hidden Asset Red Wine, Santa Barbara County 2016: Lush, delicious, mélange of superb Santa Barbara fruit adroitly assembled by skilled winemaker. $29 Link to my review

• Frank Family Vineyards Carneros Pinot Noir 2016: Solid pour, will pair well with almost anything you put on a dinner plate. $33-38 Link to my review

Last round: My doctor said I have to watch my wine drinking. So I installed mirrors in every room in the house.