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Experiences with bottle shock / settling after delivery?

howto

#1

Recently the Wienert Carrascal Assemblage Especial en primeur offering cited the following:

It will be ready to drink upon arrival but to enjoy it at its best, we suggest you wait at least a year if you can. Wines kept for many years in wood like this one can be ‘shaken up’ a bit by the bottling process, and as such, this one may need a little time to readjust after it is bottled in February

I guess what is being described here is bottle-shock

I have often noticed that when I open a bottle on the day of delivery it can be somewhat muddled and/or muted. I live in the sticks and any deliveries coming to my front door have endured a thorough shaking. This seems to be more noticeable the older the wine, with young non-vintage wines not normally a problem at all.

What are your experiences with this phenomenon? Do you find time to settle makes a difference and what is your routine for newly arrived wines?


#2

I think we need to distinguish between bottle-shock on the one hand - which, as I understand it, is wines being below par shortly after bottling. And on the other hand wine needing time after delivery. Of course, in some cases a wine may be subject to both.

Unless there is sediment, I don’t really see how travelling a bit can affect wine, and personally have not noticed any problems. A chemist once wrote that the energy transferred to wine from travelling is a lot less than anything needed to cause chemical reactions. I don’t believe there is any high quality empirical evidence for it either, and from anecdotal evidence views seem to be split pretty evenly. It should be easy to design and preform a rigorous experiment, and I wish someone would!

Proper bottle-shock though is a lot easier to accept, as the wine has probably just had an injection of sulphites and has been moved into a totally different environment.


#3

What @SteveSlatcher just said. All I would add is that bottling may also have exposed the wine to some oxygen directly as well. Not much, but it may be enough to affect it.

Champagnes have extra considerations at this final disgorgement and corking stage (bottling is an earlier stage), including the addition of dosage sugar plus top-up wine as well as all the above. Producers usually hold recently disgorged champagnes back for three or four months after final disgorgement for this reason, though if any wine benefits from even a little while longer before opening, I don’t know of it.


#4

I can definitely attest to my own experience of South African MCC (same method as Champagne) particularly blanc de blancs or Chardonnay led blends having a citric acid after-taste when recently disgorged. I always try to make sure that blanc de blancs have had 6 months rest (since disgorgement) before I open it.


#5

Here you go:


#6

That’s really interesting. To sum it up it seems the wines couldn’t be distinguished from the untraveled control group pretty much immediately after travel. But it looks like the air transported wines suffered some accelerated aging; presumably to due to the pressure changes allowing a small amount of oxygen in. Of course as stated in the research this was a structured tempranillo from Ribera del Duero and the results might be very different with other styles of wine.


#7

-Bottle Shock: Kanonkop have a maturation chart on the back of their estate wines that show a area marked bottle shock to avoid opening.

-Travel shock: I like to keep wine some time after receiving them as I think a wine that has been shaken up in travel may not be at its best. However wines you taste at wine shows were shipped to the venue the day before the show started. I was opening pallets of wine shipped by air from South Africa the evening before the start of the London International Wine Fair when they were opened for tasting.

-Sparkling wine: I keep all my Champagnes and sparkling wines for at least 6 months and preferably 3 years before opening. I am convinced there is a marked improvement.


#8

Looks interesting - thanks. I see the paper can be obtained from the IMW if you promise not to redistribute. So not exactly peer-reviewed published research, but a good start, and I think I’ll ask for a copy.


#9

It’s also not unusual for winelovers to get together at offlines (BYO dinners) bringing wines they have just transported.


#10

But not usually in the cargo hold of aeroplanes!