Wine Talk

Snooth User: Dragon182

Help! Should I buy it?

Posted by Dragon182, Mar 7, 2010.

I'm new to the wine scene, but dead keen on improving my knowledge everyday. I stay in Stellenbosch, South Africa.

I'm aware that wine should be stored laying on it's side so that the cork stays moist and touching the wine. However, I'm set on buying a magnum (1,5 litre bottle) of my favourite wine (Beyerskloof Pinotage, 2007 vintage) from my local liquor store. BUT! This bottle has not been stored on it's side, but rather upright. I do not know for how long it has been like this, but I presume at least a couple of months.

My question is this: Should this prevent me from buying the wine? Remember, I'm new to the scene, so my 'wine tastebuds' are not quite yet of connoisseur standards.

Any advice will be extremely helpful!


Reply by zufrieden, Mar 7, 2010.

There have been a few discussions on bottle closures in general, and not a few of us would like to see more screw-caps and glass stoppers on premium wines.  These closures seem much less prone to failure than cork.

But in partial answer to your question, I would not worry too much about a couple of months.  I have had cork-sealed bottles from cardboard cases that have been stored bottleneck up for at least a year without any problem.  As long as the cork was properly sealed, it will take some time for shrinkage from drying to allow unwanted air into the bottle.

Also, your liquor merchant should be amenable to your returning the bottle if you find fault with it; if there is excessive oxidation or the wine is actually "corked".  I have never had a problem with returning unsound wine anywhere in the world as long as you have a valid receipt. Of course, knowing the merchant helps even more.






Reply by GregT, Mar 7, 2010.

Agreed.  I've stored wine upright for years.  I no longer worry about storing on the side.  If the wine keeps the cork moist, that means that it's soaking in, correct?  And if it's soaking in, why isn't it evaporating out the other end?  Cork is impervious.  It's waterproof.  Plus, that's a very recent vintage anyway.

If you want the wine, get it. 

Reply by Dragon182, Mar 7, 2010.

Thanks guys! Much appreciated!

Reply by dmcker, Mar 7, 2010.

I'm going to disagree. A dried out cork is just plain bad news. I still encounter problems with wines that've been standing for anywhere from three weeks to three months, especially from merchants who use machine airconditioning to regulate temperature (and drop the humidity), even though I'm a fairly careful buyer.

In this instance, if you really want to purchase that particular wine from that particular vendor I'd suggest buying a test bottle and popping the cork in a couple of days. If you detect damage, return the bottle and don't buy any more. Let the merchant know he needs to store his bottles differently. If it seems fine and you want to proceed, buy another bottle or two for the future, but I'd be skeptical that its aging potential might have been stunted. Whether that means it'll reach its (somewhat lesser) best in eight years rather than 15 depends on the wine itself....

Reply by zufrieden, Mar 7, 2010.

Well, yes, of course it is not a good idea to store wines forever in a state where the cork will completely desiccate. But that's generally because cork is not the ultimate wine bung.  I think our point was that, if the cork is sound (always a bit of a risk, I suppose) there should be no problem with a couple of months where the cork is out of contact with the wine.  But I suppose this is always a point of more than some contention.

And you could try getting the merchant to change his/her ways.  Good luck with that, though.



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