A wine rack is no mere bottle organizer, just as wine is not just another beverage. The wine rack can be as important as the other aspects of proper wine storage. There are numerous styles of wine racks that can be used for decorative purposes, including custom wine racks. Whether or not a particular wine rack is both ideal for you and your wine depends on various factors.
Horizontal Over Vertical and Tilted
Horizontal wine racks provide an advantage over vertical wine racks as well as tilted racks, if the wine is going to be in storage for a while. The primary advantage provided by a horizontal wine rack is that the cork stays moist. This results in swelling that protects the wine from contact with an unwanted amount of air. For wine to age optimally, the perfect amount of air is the minuscule amount that gets in through the swelled cork. With horizontal storage, the sediment falls to the side of the bottle, a safe distance away from the cork. This is essential, since it helps to prevent spoilage that can occur when the wine is poured. Another benefit of horizontal custom wine racks is that the use of space is very efficient, and it’s easy to add more racks, as needed.
It can make sense to have custom vertical wine racks, as long as you plan to drink the wine stored there fairly soon. The cork dries out and shrinks over time, leading to excessive air in the bottle, when wine is stored vertically.
Tilted wine racks are also available, but they present two potential problems. First, if there is no moisture on the cork, the cork can dry out. Secondly, if the wine is against the cork, the position of the bottle can also leave sediment deposits near the cork, which can lead to ultimate spoilage at the time the wine is poured.
The Problem with a Dry Cork
To truly grasp the importance of getting the correct type of wine rack, it helps to understand what happens to wine if the cork dries out and shrinks. When added air gets into the wine, the wine becomes oxidized. The following are some of the undesirable effects of oxidation on wine:
- The wine changes color, to brick and brown tones.
- Fresh wine flavors become flat.
- The ethanol in the wine begins breaking down and shifting into other compounds, including acetaldehyde, which, in short, is not desirable.
All varieties of wine will suffer from too much air, at some point. The wines that are most resistant to oxidation include those with higher acidity, sweet wines, and wines that are more tannic.