Ryan Cropper writes: “I have a library with very tall shelves that I’m using to display all of my wine. The library has a window, and I’m wondering: How does the light affect the wine? Also, the bottles look much better standing up. How long can I leave a bottle standing straight before I need to worry about the cork drying up? Can I rotate the bottles from lying down to standing up on some kind of schedule?”
As you’re probably aware, light is one of the three mortal enemies of wine, the others being heat and oxygen. Direct sunlight is the worst, but any kind of light will accelerate a wine’s aging process.
So if there’s any way you could replace that window with either a solid door or, at the very least, darkly tinted glass, you should do so.
How long can you safely store a bottle upright, as opposed to on its side, is determined by your climate. If you live in the desert, for instance, you should never store bottles upright. Otherwise, a rotation of a month up and a month down should be fine.
Here’s an idea that might help if you want your shelving to serve the dual functions of storage and display: Lay down all of your unopened bottles, and display (upright) the favorite bottles that you’ve consumed. Simply push the corks back in after rinsing out the bottles, taking care to keep the labels dry. That’s what several members of the Vinesse tasting panel do with their favorite bottles.