Cellaring Screw Cap Wines

4 post(s)

Carl Roth 21 posts

I recently read a review where it was recommended to cellar a screw cap wine standing up. Would someone care to explain the “science” behind such a recommendation? Is there really a problem with cellaring screw cap wines lying down?

Norm N 55 posts

Carl, I don’t know of there is any sound reason not to cellar screw cap wines lying down. The only “theory” I have seen is that the synthetic liner inside the screw cap may degrade when in contact with the wine over long periods of time. To my knowledge, there is no proof of that.

Dan Trcka 21 posts

Carl, I can give you my opinion pertaining to your question, as in my reviews I also recommend that bottles with screw caps are to be kept freely standing for longer term storage. Here are couple of reasons why:

I work in a laboratory where I use any number of chemicals on daily basis as well as high grade plastic containers. In my field, it is well known that plastic will leach even into double distilled water and so when ultra pure water is needed, it is purchased in glass bottles. Wine is composed of many organic compounds including sugars, acids, phenolics, alcohol, proteins, vitamins, etc. that together with the minerals in their ionic form can act as solvents and given enough time can react with and solubilize plastic (an organic polymer) lining the screw cap. Polymers degrade naturally into their constituents due to their half life or externals effects like radiation (namely UV), or due to interactions with other chemicals, which in this case is “wine”. Convincing evidence of plastic degradation can be found in most people’s kitchen cupboards, when you take a look at any of your old plastic containers or other plastic items (for years I have been using glass containers, wooden cutting boards, and have replaced ‘leading non-stick’ pans with the ceramic ones as soon as they came onto the market). These usually have a lifespan of couple to few years, much less than wine is intended to be aged for.

Wine for (not just) me, aside from being pleasurable, is a substance with great health benefits – it reduces stress, provides antioxidants like resveratrol, minerals, vitamins and alcohol – whose benefits are well documented when consumed in small doses. Willingly, I would hate to detrimentally impact these benefits, even though the negative effects of leached plastic on our health are not well understood. As an example, about 4 years ago we learned of the negative effects bisphenol A (a plastic) has on the body as it has the ability to mimic human hormones, and hence Canada deemed it a toxic substance in 2010. Now to address Norm’s comment; FDA or CFIA check any new substance entering the market for its effects on health, and though it is known that plastics leach into drinks or food, there is not enough data to suggest that they are harmful – at least in the short term, and hence no recommendations are made (though the data should be obtainable). It took many decades to realize the effects of bisphenol A on the human body. It is recognized that many types of cancers have no known cause and that cancer rates have risen in the past say (it is hard to define) ~40-50 years. Though speculative, but intuitive, one might look at what we consume and might see some “trends” with plastic sales (including the “leading non-stick plastic” lining frying pans) and cancer rates.

So, again, though we don’t know for sure, why do things we instinctively feel may not be that good for us?
You can see that I am quite passionate about this topic (see my 1+ year old, not so “scientific” post: http://www.winealign.com/forums/8/topics/145).
Please let me know if you would like me to provide you with any citations.

Carol Ann Jessiman Administrator 27 posts

Well, I can’t stand bottles up in my Vintage Keeper, so I guess you guys are just giving me another good reason to drink more wine! Merry Christmas everyone!