Young wine I’m not planning on drinking for a while anyway ends up being far more.
Anything that has recently landed in the country, especially champagne, at least a few months for sure.
Daily drinkers or summer roses that have come only a short way via ground I might open within a few weeks, but even those I mostly let settle for a bit.
I go to the trouble of aging wine, serving it at the proper temperature, standing up bottles with sediment, decanting when appropriate, using proper stemware etc. all with the goal of giving the wine its best chance to show well. Why undermine all that by risking it being boat goofy or travel shocked just because I’m impatient? There’s always something in the cellar I’m excited to drink.
I haven’t found the slightest bit of difference in wines I’ve carried places and drank and ones that have been sitting in the cellar for years; some of the best bottles I’ve ever opened have been ones I’ve brought somewhere by plane.
I’m reusing this paragraph I wrote on the champagne thread…
“Sigh…yeah, I know. Lots of people say the same as you. I don’t question your experience. Nor do I have any doubts about my own. I’ve flown dozens of times with champagne (and other wines) and never once, in at least 100 bottles, had a bottle perform at peak afterwards, most well below. So disappointing have our experiences been over the years, that now we only carry easy drinkers and young wines when we travel. There’s no resolving this argument, and it’s been hashed out again and again. If you don’t believe in or perceive travel shock, by all means continue what you’re doing. If you do perceive it, adjust accordingly.”
Not to fight your view, but curious as to whether you’ve had experiences where you’ve done all of the following: (1) brought a wine you just had at home a few days ago on a trip, (2) brought the same/equivalent wine glasses and (3) maintained a consistent serving temperature/conditions between the two experiences?
We’ve been repeatedly disappointed post-travel in wines we drink monthly and know very well, like Egly-Ouriet rose, just to name one example. Or Keller GGs we drink regularly and have been showing well. This has been a frequent occurrence (poor showings after travel of wine we just recently drank) because we’ve often chosen what wines to bring on a trip for that very reason - they JUST showed well at home.
We always travel with our own stems for rental houses, even to the point of using them on the plane when possible, or bring wine to restaurants that have stems of that caliber, or have our hotel supply good stems from the in-house restaurants.
We always serve wines at the proper temperature, and replicate whatever decanting we do at home. We store wine properly in rental houses, have hotels put fridges in our room, drop wine at restaurants days before to give as much rest as possible. We’ve done everything we can on the road to ensure proper treatment and conditions.
We are talking about so many bottles here that there’s no way we’ll ever travel with significant wines again. We’ve tried all ages, all varieties, all RS levels, to see what travels best. Of course we ruled out anything with significant sediment from the start. We have usually traveled with at least a case of wine all over the US, Europe and Asia. Believe - I would LOVE not to have this problem. It would have saved me and my husband countless disappointments with great wines, and embarrassment when opening great wines for collector friends in other countries.
No amount of discussion is going to resolve this question. Many of us perceive significant travel shock, many others do not. No matter how many examples are given on either side, that’s not going to change.
To the original question, I believe in travel shock, and will never risk my recently delivered wines by opening them right away. I don’t need to. There’s no situation in which I need to drink this exact wine right now - I’ve got a cellar full of fun stuff to drink, and this bottle will be equally exciting a few months from now. Maybe even more so, as the anticipation will have grown. To me it’s a no brainer: if there’s a good chance in my mind it will show better with time to rest, I’m going to give it that time.
I’m one who usually waits at least a few weeks if it’s shipping up from CA. If it’s something that just came over from Europe on a container, I’d wait even longer.
And if you’re traveling somewhere, ask the hotel (or a local friend) if you can ship in wine ahead of time and have them hold it for you in order to give the wine time to settle. I’ve done that a few times in order to have aged wines when I travel places and it works really well. You don’t want to bring a 20 year old Burgundy to dinner right off the plane unless you like a lot of sediment in your mouth.
Thanks, appreciate hearing about your experiences. When travelling, I tend to bring young and simple (while enjoyable) wines (and have been more of a breadth v. depth collector in the past few years and tend to have fewer repeat experiences), so I haven’t really noticed any issues. At home, I agree, nothing I need to drink right away so it ends up that I don’t drink anything that hasn’t rested for at least a couple months (not so much to avoid bottle shock as much as the practical reality of how much other wine there is…).
The folk myth that won’t die.
Do you let your groceries “settle” for a few days due to travel shock?
The idea that physical movement or agitation will affect the chemical composition (and therefore gustatory qualities) of wine or any food is just silly. Then, after they “settle,” what happens? The molecules which were perturbed by movement somehow go back into their original configuration? Their chakras realign?
As Charlie said, let them settle for sediment. Give them some time if recently bottled. Otherwise, fire when ready.
I was tempted to post the meme of the guy slapping his forehead saying, “Aw Jeez. Not this sh*t again.”
The evidence seems anecdotal. If travel shock is a thing, is there scientific evidence to prove it, and to identify what is really happening? Otherwise, are we ruling out offlines? Taking wines to friends for dinner?
I think that oversimplifies what it could be. Given all of the compounds in wine, it wouldn’t surprise me if there were a temperature-dependent reversible reaction further accelerated by physical agitation (they make magnetic stirring plates/rods in chemistry for a reason).