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Snooth User: Carlosjrf

Closet storage ideas

Posted by Carlosjrf, Feb 8, 2012.

Hello people, I decided to start a mini cellar and the only place is my bedroom closet. Since I have other stuff in there and I go in frequently, i need ideas of what to do to sotre them in a corner and help them not move to much. Whatever I've been buying I've tried to buy it with cap instead of cork, so I thought about something like a milk crate. Any good ideas? Any lessons learned?


Reply by EMark, Feb 8, 2012.

The closet is a good idea, Carlos.  Dark and, presumably, reasonably constant temperature.

It's been decades since I worked in the drive-thru dairy.  So, I'm not sure how many bottles of wine the milk crates you're considering would hold.  My idea is to just use the cardboard boxes that are used to package wine for delivery to retail stores.  These will hold 12 bottles and will last for years (heck, decades).  It's going to be in the closet.  So, there are not esthetic or design compromises to worry about. 

I don't know where you are buying your wine, but most of the retail stores that I shop have these boxes laying around.  When I make multiple bottle purchases, they will usually pack them in these boxes for me rather than bag them.  If you are not purchasing that many bottles you might just ask for a box.

I'm not sure why you are disguishing between the cap-stopped and cork-stopped bottles.  I don't see what that has to do with the storage apparatus.

Happy drinking, Carlos.  Keep us up to date on your wine adventures.

Reply by Carlosjrf, Feb 8, 2012.

Well, correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought that the corked bottles should be stored sideways and the capped ones could be stored standing. The milk crate idea just came to me because I rememeber my dad using crate to sotre some things in the garage. I do not know how many bottles they could fit. Sorry if it sounded stupid. Right now I buy my wine either from the grocery store (they have a wine steward now which is awesome) or the package store nearby that has a huge selection and I mostly research fisrt before buying. I will go by there and see if they have any boxes they could spare. Thanks for the tip.

Reply by EMark, Feb 8, 2012.

I had never heard that about screw caps.  It may be true, but I have never had a problem storing them on their sides.  The seal is supposed to be airtight.  So, if one is leaking because it has been laying on its side, then I think it has issues, and the bottler has a QC problem.

The last sentence is my opinion.  I do not have much factual information to support it.  I will be intrigued to hear from other posters on this issue.

Also, nothing in you post sounded stupid.  If you have access to these milk crates, and they work for you, then they are good.

Reply by dmcker, Feb 8, 2012.

It probably is a good idea to separate the bottles with stelvin screwtop closures from those with cork. Thus I'd get two (or more, depending on how many bottles we're talking about) boxes, lay the cork version on the bottle's side, and the screwtops standing up. No one has done studies over time of how contact between wine and the screwtop coatings turn out, and there's no reason in this instance for you to be a guinea pig, Carlos.

You should try to organize things so you're not bumping the boxes every day. Also, be sure that closet doesn't have a wall to the outside of the buiilding, because then temperatures can vary greatly, and rise in summer temp could be a real worry.

I've stored boxes in closets in multiple locaitons for many years, though I was fortunate that was in environments where temperatures were relatively low and stable. Only one mishap was when wines (with cork closures) I was storing in my grandparents' house for use when visiting got turned upright by a busybody aunt. Didn't find out for a year or more, so decided to drink those up pretty quickly...

Reply by EMark, Feb 8, 2012.

I see your point about upright storage, DM, and it certainly makes sense.

I belong to the the WIne Connections Group over on LinkedIn, and for the last few days I have been monitoring a discussion on the merits of the corks and the Stelvins.  I'm going to ask this question over there, and I'll report anything I learn. 


Reply by JonDerry, Feb 8, 2012.

Yes, definitely go upright with the Stelvin closures, no worries about the cork drying up afterall.

I'm kind of going through a similar situation that I was going to create a post about myself. I'm way beyond capacity for my active storage right now (wine fridges), so have had to experiment with some passive storage.

My condo is not a good place for this, but i've been doing it anyway...storing bottles with cork on their side in boxes near my outside patio window. I've put a thermometer in there to check in on the temp, and it's usually between 70-72 degrees. Over the summer, I believe it got up 2-3 degrees higher at times, but hopefully not much more. I've stored mostly lesser bottles in this situation, and for less than a year.

Fast forward to more important times. We took out a storage locker (think storage wars) for our business, and got lucky with the fact that no part of it faces the sun, and this is in San Clemente, CA probably no more than a couple miles from the coast, so temperatures should be pretty well regulated, though it can spike a bit during summer. Even though we've had a pretty warm winter, it gets cold overnight and when I went in to visit this morning, noticed one of the bottles was very cold, maybe high 40's or low 50's.

So this begs the question, how low is too low in temperature?

If temperature fluctuates between 45 - 60+ during winter, and between 55 - 70 over summer would this be safe enough? My feeling is that I can get away with this for another month or two but I should probably just go ahead with a storage locker with the proper temperature and humidity controls.

As for storing bottles w/ corks upright, how long before there may be damaged?

You see this all the time at retail stores. I've also been forced to store a few mags in my active wine cooler vertical to get them all to fit. When I spend the night here (once a week) I take them out and lay them on their sides...

Reply by GregT, Feb 8, 2012.

Carlos - bedroom closet is a bad idea unless you are going to make sure the AC is on all day and night during the summer, and better yet, you're only "storing" them to keep them out of the way and you plan to drink them up in a few months.  Otherwise, people keep their bedrooms much too warm for long-term storage.  Figure it will be in the low seventies probably and in the summer, unless you're keeping it cool, it will be much hotter.

Some wines can survive that with no problem.  But if I put some money into the wine, I sure wouldn't keep it like that for very long. Temperature is probably the single most important factor that affects a wine's ability to age, or even to keep, well.  If you're going to drink up within a year or so, you shouldn't have a problem and I've kept wine that way for even longer and it was OK. Those wines however, tended to be pretty stabilized, so if you're buying one of those low-sulfur, "organic" kinds of things, you're going to be providing a very nice environment for the reproductive activities of whatever bugs happen to be in the wine.  By "bugs" of course, I mean yeasts and bacteria.

Temperature has little to do with the closure insofar as determining whether or not your wine will cook.  You can assuredly store the screw cap wines standing upright, and in fact, I think you should be able to store the corked wines upright too.  There's a lot of mythology about that, but a good cork should be airtight and impermeable. Side storage is mostly because you can stack up so much more wine when you lay it on the side, so people developed these spook theories about its importance.  And they're all over.  I just came across a site by some organization or guy called "Vintage Cellars" that purports to teach people about wine storage, but the very first page was replete with factual errors. People pick up that kind of stuff and repeat it to their friends and that's how we end up with all the mythology regarding wine storage.

Where temperature does matter however, is if it gets so hot that your wine actually blows through the cork, which is pretty uncommon.  More common is the expansion of the internal air which pushes the cork out a bit.  That's not a good sign. So as D suggests, you want the temp to be on the cooler side and stable. Stable because another myth is that temperature swings are OK if done slowly, but not if done quickly. That's not true - it's the temp swing itself that matters, not the time it takes to occur. IF a temp change is going to be detrimental, avoid it. Period.  Small fluctuations aren't critical, but the more stable your temps, the better.

As far as the number of bottles you can put in a crate - figure about 3 inch diameters for the average Bordeaux-shaped bottles, with some of the Beaujolais bottles going up to 3.25 or even 3.5 inches.

Good luck.

Reply by EMark, Feb 9, 2012.

OK, so far I am lining up behind the philosphy of storing Stelvin-capped bottles upright.  However, it appears that there is no definitive proof that laying them on the side causes any problem.

Over in the LinkedIn discussion I read some interesting posts from an individual in Australia by the name of Mark Davidson.  In one of his posts he says that he is drinking 10 year old wines, both reds and whites, with Stelvins, and he feels they are excellent.

In his latest post he states,

We mostly store stelvin wines since 2002 vintage upright because it is easier to leave them in the box and there have been no problems at all. Some have been stored on their side, and although I havent done a tasting of upright V side of the same wine, I should. My opinion is however, that there have been no problems at all with drinking quality or leaking.

Again, I agree, this is not definitive.

He provides some discussion of Stelvin technology:

The stelvin we use in Aus for wine is the one with saran-tin liner under the cap. The original screwcaps were polymer liners, which is where I believe some of the mistaken beliefs about cellaring screwcaps have come from (Boon's Farm memories for the yanks amongst us). These liners had a similar effect to the worst of the plastic corks (premature oxidation). There is also the new stelvin bottling line technology called re-draw, where unlike the old version which left the liner sitting flat on the top of the bottle, it rolls the top circumference of the aluminium lid over at the edge to better protect the liner from impact damage - take a look at any Aussie bottle. There are other seals available to producers under screwcaps today which are also not recommended for the longer term and would only be used by cheap, cost-cutting producers. The company producing saran-tin seals talks about medium term cellaring (to look after their possible legal liability I suspect), but the research in wine now goes way beyond what you may call medium term.

Finally, he posts a link to a repoert by blogger Richard Jennings that discusses the results of a side-by-side tests of Plumpjack Cabernet Sauvignon.  According to this report in 2000 PlumpJack decided to bottle half of its production of 1997 Reserve in Stelvin-capped bottles and half bottles with cork stoppers.  (Interestingly enough, they charged $10 more for the screw cap bottles.)  Mr. Jennings reports on a couple of side-by-side blind tastings of the two bottlings.  I would summarize the results as a statistical tie.  I find this to be very interesting.  I have been under the impression that screw caps were not appropriate for ageworthy wines.  Apparently, that philosophy may be fading.  If I stumble onto more definitive studies, I will post here on the Forum.  


Reply by dmcker, Feb 9, 2012.

Mark, I wasn't talking about oxidation (oxygen seepage, if you will) so much as other issues with the chemistry of the coatings. Anyway, stelvins should be stored upright.

Reply by EMark, Feb 9, 2012.

Well, the discussion is raging over there.  And I still have no definite conclusion.  That's what makes the world go round.  Isn't it great?

You might take a look at this study on "Oxygen ingress through different closures into wine bottles."  This study tries to compare various stoppers' performance in horizontal and vertical storage.  It is very high level and appears to be a PowerPoint overview of the study.  There is a lot of nomenclature with which I have little familiarity.  The end seems to conclude that all stoppers allow oxygen to permeate into the bottle and and the difference between the permeation rates between vertical and horizontal storage seems to depend on the type of stopper.

A correspondent by the name fo Keith Pritchard (who appears to be a vineyard owner and wine producer in Ohio) has joined the conversation and he thought that he recalled another study that spanned a longer period and showed definite oxygen permeation rates depending on orientation.  He could not point to that study, however.

Mr. Pritchard is well spoken and is definitely not a fan of Stelvin closures.  "Stelvin and similar screwcaps are too tight."

Reply by lakenvelder, Feb 9, 2012.


You might want to separate the wines using pvc pipes if you use crates. I have my wine in a plastic storage container separated by bubble wrap until I am able to get a wine cooler.

Reply by GregT, Feb 9, 2012.

Mark - be cautious about your authorities. I swear I have no beef whatsoever with Mr. Jennings and from all accounts he's a very decent guy. But he's not an "authority". He's a guy who wasn't and isn't in the business but who started going to trade tastings and who obsessively posts about every wine experience he's ever had. Then he started a blog. Again - I'm honestly not disparaging him and he's studious and diligent but he's not a scientist and he's no more an authority than you are.  As for the history of Plumpjack, you can read the press release here -

There are problems with the screwcaps however, and I say this as a fan.  There is no reason that modern science can't produce a closure that's more predictable than cork. But if you knock a screw cap at the right angle, you can compromise the seal.  And then, surprisingly, you get some oxygen ingress and your wine is ruined.

The second problem, and I'm not dismissing it but I don't know how much credence to give it, is that the plastic liner itself may be an issue. I don't know the chemistry and don't know if that's something to worry about and I haven't seen any definitive studies.  Nonetheless, it's something to consider.


Reply by JonDerry, Feb 10, 2012.

So Greg, are you saying the old accepted truth that storing bottles w/ a cork vertical will cause the cork to dry out and spoil the wine is a myth?


A Mr. Jennings sighting!


Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Feb 10, 2012.

Sorry to be late here.


Just a few points


First on storing wine in closets. I've forgotten about wine in the back corner of my coat closet for several years. This is in nyc apartment that goes without AC in the summer, at leas tthe part of the apartment that closet is in. Temperatures in the apartment get well over 100F, enough to destroy a wine. However, with the closet door shut, the bottles in a box, stored upright I might add, and covered with some coats that had fallen offf their hangers, seemed to hve suffered little or no damage. I'm trying to remember exactly which wines they were. I drank them a year or two ago, and while they weren't super, they were older after all so only great bottles, they weren't obviously or painfully cooked. Mysterious things happen in closets.

Now on stelvin. I've tasted old, in excess of 10 year old, wines bottled under stelvin and cork side by side and have to say that in most cases the stelvin capped bottles was at least as fresh if not fresher than the cork finished example. There is no doubt that the stelvin finished bottles offer a good alternative to cork and perhaps are more practical given that they eliminate TCA that comes from corks. One caveat I might add here is that these samples were tasted at the domaine, so no shipping was involved.

The issue that Greg raises is the most troubling part. When I worked in retail you could always tell where the slightly dented stelvin bottles were, they attracted fruit flies. Even if they were not leaking, there was obviously plenty of transfer going on, which is troubling to say the least. Upon inspection some of the dmaged caps were obvious, some much less so, and this is an issue somewhat akin to TCA, since you generally will not discover it until you want to drink the damn wine.

And as far as storing corked bottles upright and having the cork dry out, I have heard arguements both for and against storing wines upright. All I can say defintiely is that with a few older botles, that I had stored on their sides for years, standing them up for a few weeks to allow the sendiemt to settle was all it took to allow the corks to drop into the bottles.

And since I'm on this subject, here's a trick I learned years ago. With some leaking wines, wines that are actively leaking through their corks, if you stand the bottle up and let the wine dry then lay it down again until it seeps, then stand it up again to allow it to dy, then keep repeating this until the seeping ends, you can reseal that leaking cork. I don't know why it work, you would think that the aseeping wine would dissolve any solids created by drying out the previous seepage, but in many case it simply doesn't. Of course, if the cork falls into the bottle you're in for a surprise when you lay that bottle down again!


Reply by Carlosjrf, Feb 10, 2012.

Wow, this went way too scientific for what I expected. You people really know your stuff. I like it. I hope to be like you all. I'm an engineer and my wife is a chemist phd, we are loving this.

I'm an absolute beginner with wine, so I'm little by little buying whites (mostly riesling) and some reds in the $10-20$ range.

My wife and I will not be buying a house for a while. Our lease is up this summer so I'm trying to convince her to move to a 2 bedroom apartment so we can have that extra room and closet to store all the stuff we have (and have a space for my wine!!!).

The conditions in my apartment right now, and probably the next one, is air conditioned to 75 deg, but out bedroom and closet has to be at least 5 deg below that cause its always colder, say 70 deg. Since its winter now its probably around 60. I'm storing the reds in the closet for family and friends gatherings (and some for myself) and whites in the kitchen fridge to have handy because those are the only ones the wife will try. I'm in the process of buying a small wine fridge (6 to 12 bottles) to store the whites so they dont bounce around like in the kitchen fridge.

We live in the southern United States and it gets pretty hot in the summer, although not as humid as I thought it would be. We are for Puerto Rico, I know humidity, here is dry. I guess my short term is to follow your recommendations. Medium term solution is to get 2 fridges for reds and whites. Long term is to get a house with a basement and set up something down there.

From the temperature discussion I take that whites dont have to be stored in a frindge as long as the area is cool. Did i get that right? Can all wines be stored in the same spot as long as the temprature is correct? Whites in a colder place than the reds?

Reply by EMark, Feb 10, 2012.

Carlos, let me give you my experience.  It may or may not be typical.  I live in Southern California about 40 miles from the ocean.  It gets quite hot in the summer--so, the A/C is blasting--with very little humidity.  The winters are quite mild--we consder 40s and 50s to be cold.  I do not have the wherewithal to store all my wine under perfect "wine cave" conditions.  So, here is the compromise that I use. 

I do have a wine storage cabinet in my garage.  It was built by my father-in-law who is the second coming of Mr. Fixit.  This cabinet holds approximately 150-170 bottles depending on how I cram them in.  As a rule of thumb, wines that I do not plan on drinking for 3-4 or more years go into this cabinet.  I am a California wine bigot.  So, you can imagine that there are mostly Cabs in there, but also a respectable population of Zinfandels, some Pinots here and there, some Syrahs, and a handful of dessert wines (mostly, French).  The oldest wines in the cabinet are, I believe vintage 1978.  They youngest are some 2007 Ridge Lytton Springs that I just bought a few weeks ago.  Because of financial and personal drinking preference reasons I hardly ever buy more that a few bottles of a given wine.

Now, in all honesty most of the wines that I drink do not come out of the cabinet.  I live in a two story house.  Under the staircase I have built a simple rack that holds about 100 bottles.  (Right now it is probably at 60% capacity.  So, I am planning a run to the local purveyor to stock up).  The under-the-staircase location is fairly dark and reasonably constant in temperature.  I put almost all the white wines and most of the red wines that I buy under the staircase.   Right now I have a couple bottles of '04 Meritage wines and a few '05 Zins and Cabs under the staircase.  (OK, I also have a single bottle of "Cuvee du Bicenenaire de la Revolution Francaise" Bordeaux that a friend brough back from France about 20 years ago, but, who's kidding who, that is more of a novely.)  I am not the most sophisticated wine lover in the world, but I can't complain that of the wines that I've pulled from under the staircase suffered from abuse.  Maybe some of them did, but, again, I'm not complaining.

I think you closet storage plan for red wines is fine.

GregT, I hear you loud and clear on presumptive authority.  I am still listening to all the discussions and find it all to be very interesting.  As you know it is hard to find the little nuggets of gold when sifting through all the grains of sand.

Reply by JonDerry, Feb 10, 2012.

Carlos, just one thing that caught my's not necessary to get two wine fridges for white and red. Both are ideally stored at between 55-57 degrees.

White wines just need to be served colder, so before serving white, simply stick them in your regular fridge for about 30 minutes or so and you'll be good.

Reply by dmcker, Feb 10, 2012.

And if you're going to buy any wine fridge, buy one at least two to three times larger than you're initially thinking about. They fill up in an instant.

Reply by GregT, Feb 10, 2012.

Carlos - a six to twelve bottle wine fridge is going to be in your next garage sale!  Really, if you save six bottles, you'll wonder what to do with the other 35 that just showed up somehow.  Everyone has to go thru this for themselves, but it's true.  I built a 2000-bottle wine cellar and it's way under capacity.  So not only is the 250 bottle Vinoteque filled, we have a few dozen cases just sitting in the basement hoping we find space in the fridge or the cellar before summertime. I assure you, that was never my goal.

As far as storage upright and on the side goes, there's a lot of opinion and very little science.  Most of the stories are anecdotal. Just like the cavemen, when we lack absolute knowledge, we go to the people who have the best stories, or the most stories. I do.  Hell, it's served mankind for a few million years or so. Thus, I store the vast majority of my wines on their sides.  But that's really because they store best that way.  OTOH, I have stored wines upright for many years and they've suffered no ill fortune. 

I believe, but don't have the science to back it, that the humidity in the bottle is close to 100 percent and consequently whether or not the cork dries is more a function of the cork than it is of the ambient humidity in the room or cellar.  Moreover, if the wine were keeping the cork moist, you'd expect that it would be getting ever more concentrated - after all, you wouldn't expect the tannins to pass thru the cork and go flying off in the air.

And you'd get more alcoholic wine, wouldn't you?  You can calculate the molecule size by the angles of the bonds - i.e.  (C--H), (C--C), (C--O), and (O--H) and that gives you some idea of the molecular size. Since the alcohol molecule is larger than the water molecule (H-O-H) that escapes, you should be ending up with a thick, syrupy, alcoholic liquid.

Carlos - get your wife on this ASAP! If she's a chemist, she can help.

In any event, it makes you wonder whether water really does pass thru a 2 inch cork endlessly and somehow keep the cork wet thru and thru. To me, it points out the inadequacy of cork as a seal. Seems like you would want the liquid to stay inside and the air to stay outside.

Which means that if it's water passing thru the cork, your cork is crap.

Then again, people pass water and some of them aren't crap so here we are back at the beginning again.

Reply by GregT, Feb 10, 2012.

BTW - Jon - I don't know about whether it's a myth or not.  For example, Matt Kramer, who writes for Wine Spectator and has published a few books, suggested that it's a myth.

I'm not a fan of his writing style at all, but he's tasted a lot of wine. There's precious little science but if the cork is good, it shouldn't matter.  If the cork is crap, drink the wine fast!

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