Standing Up or Laying Down bottle?
Very often, when my customers come to the store and pick up one or more bottles from the shelves, they inadvertently take the first one(s) they see, which, generally and in most cases scenario, end up being the one(s) standing up. The one facing them, in front of the rest which are usually lying down on their side. And as often as it happens, showing some concerns about their pick(s), I let them know that it will be better, unless they don’t have the choice, to chose one of the bottles that are laying down rather than the one standing up.
Consequently and irremediably, I am nearly every time faced with the same eternal question: Why?
Well, there are surely countless reasons, but, amongst them, 4 seem to be the most obvious and logical. Therefore, I usually tell my customers that, when choosing a bottle of wine in a wine & spirits retail store, they should avoid taking the one(s) standing up because:
- First, if you enter a wine shop where there is not to much turn over of the inventory on the shelves or, even worst, if all bottles are standing up, and if the standing up bottles have been bottled with a real tree cork, the cork(s) may have dried out (due to the fact that the cork isn’t in contact with the wine inside the bottle), and let some oxygen enter the bottle, which may have generated oxidation. Once oxidized, a wine is bad. That is the main reason why one should always prefer the laying bottles rather the ones standing up.
Screw-tap and plastic-like-synthetic corked bottles are usually less or rarely exposed to this kind of problem, but here again it may happen, especially with bad or untight screw-tap cap.
A little tip: if you happen to have a bottle that you believe is oxidized or corked, just cork it back and bring it back to the store where you bought it with what is left of wine in the bottle (do not pour it out in the sink like most people do, the stores need the wine inside to get their money back or a replacement or a credit back from the distributors). The store should normally exchange it for a new one or another wine of your choice at the same price. That say, oxidation doesn’t happen too often, that is if your local wine shop is doing the right thing.
- Secondly, the standing up bottles on the shelves, usually playing the identifying role for the other bottles lying in the back, is always the one that people take, check and shake and often put back. Wine doesn’t like to be shaken. Do you?
- Thirdly, the standing up bottles are always the ones that receive the most light from outside and more especially from inside, coming generally from cheap neon fixtures glaring from the ceiling. Rare are the stores (amongst other places) that have the appropriate light orientation that will be less harmful. Wine doesn’t like to be so exposed to light because it usually discolors the wine. That is the main reason why wine in general, and more especially red wines, which often need a minimum of time to age in the bottle, always come in darker bottles (green, brown or black).
Yet it doesn’t matter so much for wines of immediate consumption that are usually inexpensive enough to move faster from the shelves. White and Rosé wines more and more often come in transparent or lighter green bottles for color identification purposes. That say, Rosé wines are usually consumed quite rapidly and over the warmer months, and even if people drink Rosé all year long, it is usually more concentrated between March and October (in the northern hemisphere). Expensive and quality whites are still and usually coming in darker green bottles.
- Fourthly, the older a wine gets in the bottle, usually the more sedimentation will form inside the bottle, and it is important to keep these old ladies on their side for the sedimentation to rest at the bottom along the side of the bottle, still in contact with most of the wine in the bottle to keep consistency of taste. Consequently, if the bottle is standing up, and more especially if it is an older vintage, all the sedimentation will fall down at the bottom of the bottle, and somewhat disturb the consistency of the taste of the wine in this particular bottle. The wine will taste slight dull and lacking of focus in aromas and flavors.
In short and for these four above main reasons, one should always prefer the laying down bottles to the ones standing up when browsing around in his or her local Wine & Spirits boutique. That is also why, in my honest opinion, one should favor the quality of the eclectic choices made by a local wine Boutique rather than the endless and usually “staff-less” aisles of a supermarket, which will usually offer a lot, especially price rather than quality, but will lack of knowledgeable advices, services and more intimate, personable experiences.
Remember, that is the one laying down that you should take and leave the one standing up, unless it is the last one standing and you don’t have a choice, because you wanted it so badly.
LeDom du Vin
Step into the Green! Drink more Biodynamic, Biologique and Organic wines and spirits and food) from sustainable culture and respect the environment! Support the right causes for the Planet and all the people suffering all around the globe! Also follow projects and products from the Fair Trade, an organized social movement and market-based approach that aims to help producers in developing countries obtain better trading conditions and promote sustainability. Also support 1% for the Planet, an alliance of businesses that donate at least 1% of their annual revenues to environmental organizations worldwide. "Commerce Equitable" or "Fair Trade" is evidently and more than ever a needed movement connecting producers and customers, to be aware of others and their cultural and traditional products based on high quality, natural components and craftsmanship.