Drinking Wine After Delivery

You’re right, the study’s author was honest about the limitations. But I think someone in last year’s thread on this topic cited it as a definitive debunking of the notion of travel shock. Which it clearly isn’t.

It should also be pointed out that the MofW wines were just flown from Spain to Copenhagen and Helsinki – 3-hour and 4-hour flights, respectively. The locations were chosen, in part, because they are in the EU so there were no customs delays.

That’s a far cry from shipments from Europe to US, which go by truck to a shipper for consolidation in a container, then by truck or train to a port, then onto a ship. Transit times from the cellar to the US can be more than a month.

FYI, I’m not sure big wines are necessarily immune to this. I think people in the trade feel it affects Bordeaux and Northern Rhone shipped to America. I know that Berserker Oliver McCrum, who imports a lot of top Italian wines to the West Coast, believes that many suffer temporarily from shipping.

I agree. A study similar to this would need to be conducted with a wide variety of wines before drawing any conclusions.

My comments on more robust wines are a hypothesis. I reckon that bigger wines. I reckon that bigger and bolder wines by their structure are more robust to endure travel and would display less variability from travel compared to lighter an more delicate wines. I’d argue that is in part of why Bordeaux was so prevalent historically because the wines could endure the voyages better than other regions, albeit in different containers at times

And it is also worth noting that even in a short flight there were some significant chemical changes that occurred in the wine in the analysis, they just weren’t detectable by panel of tasters. You’d certainly need to repeat this with other trained tasters to be able to conclude that those changes were beyond the perception threshold.

I’m finally receiving my shipment from Richard Albert (BerserkerDay) supposedly tomorrow and am dying to open one of those bottles for my birthday, Thursday, but obviously THAT’S not gonna happen!!! Dammit!

Drink someone else’s!! [cheers.gif]

Cheaper wines under $40.00 never worried about it and no difference to me as if I laid them down for a while. Probably would not do this with Champagne or higher end wine.

What wines specifically? Yes, older wines need more time to settle they are more delicate.


A study conducted a few years ago by a MW found very little evidence of travel shock in red wines with a few years of age to them.

My limited research has verified this! [cheers.gif]

What about drinking wine during delivery? If you’re getting several cases, you could have time to open a bottle and pour some while they’re still coming in.

Seriously, older reds for sediment, nothing else needs to wait. The only times I’ve heard about actual blind comparisons (including the well-conducted study linked above), they’ve shown no evidence of “travel shock”. I think it’s an excuse importers/distributors make when the wines don’t show well. Of course, bottling shock is very real, but that’s different.

I bought 3 bottles of 1976 Lopez a year ago. Tried the first one after 3 months and it was pretty meh. I wasn’t happy. Tried the next one about 6 months after delivery and it was much better. I thought the first one was just a bad bottle. Had the last one after 9 months and we loved that bottle. All bottles looked like they had been cellared exactly the same. Looking back, I think it was the difference in letting them sit for extended periods of time.

When I try a new winery, I always order 3 bottles. I usually drink the first one about a month after delivery to see if I want to buy more. Drink the rest later. With these young wines, I’ve never had such a bottle variation as the 1976 Lopez.

In many years of traveling with wine, I’ve never had a great showing from a bottle of significant wine after it flew on a plane, or after recent importation. Dozens of disappointing showings later, I simply don’t carry bottles of significance or age, and I always let newly arrived bottles rest for an extended period. I have no scientific evidence or blind studies to back my position, only repeated personal experience, which is sufficient to influence my personal future behavior. Now we travel with younger, modest but delicious wines only, and we are not suffering for it. I really wish my experience were different, but it would be foolish of me to keep up a practice that leads to disappointment. Could it all be in my head, mine and Jonathan’s? It’s possible. But the disappointment is very real.

I’m not sure why there is such a negative slant here. If you don’t believe in it, that’s fine. But to say it’s “an excuse importers/distributors make when the wines don’t show well” discounts the experiences of a lot of people. Have you ever tasted wine at a French domaine in January and then tasted the same wine 3 months later immediately after shipping it to the US? If not, you should try it sometime. A lot of the time they seem like different wines until they rest for a while.

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Well, it wouldn’t necessarily be nefarious. We all convince ourselves of explanations when faced with evidence that contradicts our beliefs. Then there’s confirmation bias, remembering confirming experiences more than contradictory ones (is this part of confirmation bias or something else?), and of course, differences in ourselves in physiology, emotion, mindset, and how clearly we remember that comparative experience. I think all of us who are extremely into wine have too much faith in the consistency of our tasting experiences. Putting the same blind wine into multiple flights in the same day, especially with one in the morning and one in the afternoon, can be a great eye-opener. I’ve been on both sides of that (conducting the tasting, with highly experienced wine students, and doing the tasting). Even one wine in the same flight at slightly different temperatures is very enlightening. The differences tend to be dramatic. With all of these elements combined, and probably a few I’m not thinking of at the moment, having the type of experience you describe wouldn’t convince me of anything, especially when what little solid evidence we have strongly suggests the opposite. Then there’s the opinion of at least one chemist on this board, which is also pretty strongly against travel shock being real. I’ve seen/heard a couple of other chemists weigh in on this topic, and none have thought it was even plausible. I’m not saying that convinces me 100%, but I think it’s pretty strong support for the idea that this thing doesn’t exist.

I don’t know about travel shock but sediment dispersion ruining wines (when opened at such time) certainly does exist.

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Yes, of course.

Happy Birthday! champagne.gif

Why let facts and flavor suck the joy out of tearing open the latest delivery and going full Pobega?


If you take two bottles of high-end red wine, one of the most recent vintage and one that is 40 years old, and put samples of each in a strong centrifuge, the young one will form a very small pellet, while the old one will form a very large one and will lose most of its color from the supernatant, as anthocyanins bound to tannins are pulled out of solution/suspension - for old wines the distinction between the two is not so clear. When we say that old red wines are delicate, it is literally true. Their phenolics are sufficiently polymerized and those polymers are of a sufficiently large size that they easily interact with one another. It is likely that lesser physical agitation can substantially interfere with their relationships to one another and, perhaps, to other components of the wine. The extent to which these effects are reversed or relaxed when the agitation stops is extremely poorly understood.