Query: Wine "Putting On Weight"

I understand what it means for a wine to “put on weight” with a little time in the cellar, but what exactly is happening to the wine that causes this to happen? And why don’t all wines “put on weight”.

Not a clue as to why, but I definitely think this happens. For me, some real examples of this were red Burgundies from 1980, 2000 and 2007.

I think two things are happening. First, the tannins soften i.e. polymerize. That uncovers the fruit and smooths the mouthfeel. Second, reductive character is reversed by exposure to oxygen.
The first takes time in the bottle. The second can occur from oxygen exposure in the glass.

Wines that have prominent fruit to begin with are not going to put on weight, and thin wines are going to remain thin- nothing is added, obviously. “Putting on weight is a matter of uncovering”.

P Hickner

I was going to say that, in my experience, it’s more common with high-acid wines like Burgundy, Northern Rhones and Barolos that sometimes can seem a bit thin on fruit when young. I’ve speculated if it has something to do with tannins resolving and the fruit coming to the fore, as you say, Peter.

The reversal or reduction is an interesting theory. I guess that could take place at a very slow pace in the bottle. (I was thinking about the flesh that is put on with age.)

I agree with Peter. I don’t think wines “put on weight” with time in bottle. Rather, I think wines that are somewhat out of balance (by the structure dominating) can open up and come into better balance as the structure mellows. As the wine opens up, it seems to gain intensity of fruit. To describe that as “putting on weight” seems inaccurate to me.

I haven’t a clue. My thought is that it is a perception, and that it is a very real perception. But what goes in the bottle stays in the bottle.

I am not a chemist nor pretend to be!

30 minutes ago someone told me my 2012 had put on weight.
I told him my 2009 had changed from bright red fruit to darker fruit. Red raspberry and red cherry to black raspberry and black cherry. And it is not imaginary, because I notice the trend in descriptions on CT.

I once took a seminar put on by ETS on “Post-bottling Wine Defects.” There is a lot that can go on in that 750ml bottle.

I believe the moleculer chains of the wine become longer as the wine ages. There was a thread from a berserker chemist detailing the aging process of wine.

Ha, I opened this thread thinking it was an Open Letter by Corey raising concerns about his physique.

I use this term quite a bit but have no explanation as to why some wines feel like they add weight after being opened, sometimes a day or more. Thanks for some of the explanations above.

Cheers all.

First good laugh all day!

I guess I disagree with Peter in some sense. I have found some “thin” vintage wines from 2011 to become less shrill and more balanced, integrated and weighty in the mid palate.

Absolutely. Perfect example.

Like many other descriptors, the concept is evocative, not literal. I don’t think the wine picks up extra weight or density, but it often tastes more “full” as it takes on air, warms up from cellar temp etc.

Thanks for the replies. I guess there’s no true consensus was to the why, but everyone acknowledges that the phenomenon is real (whatever it is).

And Bobby, when I see you I’m going to take a butter knife and gut you like a mackerel. (Sometimes the truth hurts!)

I assume that the taster has added extra pounds, and in order to divert attention/blame towards others, accuses the wine of “putting on weight.” Well, at least that’s what I do…

In addition to the explanations above, some wines seem to into some sort of bottle shock/shell as a result of the bottling process. Depending on the wine, it may emerge from that state very quickly with cellar rest, or it may take a lot more time. You can also see the same sort of thing with extended decanting/aeration times in young wines. When you taste them immediately after opening the bottle, the wine seems thin. But with at least 1-2 hours in the decanter, the wine “fills out” and seems richer and more full of life.


That’s the problem right there, Corey, you are thinking about food even when you insult and threaten people! There are programs for this. I can help, just reach out.

BTW, smoked mackeral with a crisp Chenin sounds lovely right now. So hot outside . . . .

I don’t think anyone means that term literally. But I think it’s a very apt description for the experience of some wines. I don’t think it’s “inaccurate.” Perhaps metaphoric, but that would describe most of the best wine terms (elegant, rustic, feminine).

The tannins polymerize, as a poster previously stated. They form longer chains and fall out of solution, forming sediment. In turn, the background flavors take center stage. The acids and alcohol will remain the same (given that no acetic acid issues emerge from excess oxygen exposure). The interaction between the fruit, acids, and softer tannins, as well as the booze, make for a transformed, fuller, friendlier wine.

I’ve never understood this term, but I haven’t yet had the chance to follow many wines as they evolve. It sounds like people are talking about perceived concentration of certain aromas/flavors. “Weight”, to me, is body. For those who use this term, do you think these wines actually become fuller in body, or is it something else you’re describing?

This isn’t something I know to be true, but just thinking it thru – SO2 adds can certainly thin out a wine, and it’s common practice to bump SO2 levels at bottling. As free SO2 is consumed, I think it would be normal for the wine to gain volume. As the process continues (oxidation and consequent aldehyde formation that binds SO2), I’d expect accumulating aldehydes themselves to add “weightiness” to the wine. It also makes a certain amount of sense for this phenomenon to occur more often in wines like pinot that don’t have as much tannin to act as an anti-oxidant.

I’m not sure why it happens, but I keep bags of Cheetos in my cellar just to help it along.