Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.
Dear Dr. Vinny,
When traveling, are any wines more or less susceptible to bottle shock than others?
—Paul, Rancho Mission Viejo, Calif.
"Bottle shock," aka “bottle sickness” or “travel shock,” is a term used to describe the phenomenon by which recently bottled wines, or recently agitated bottles of wine (such as those that have recently been shipped), taste muted or disjointed. It’s one of those things about wine that doesn’t have a clear explanation, but there is anecdotal evidence from plenty of wine lovers (including yours truly) that a bottle of wine doesn’t quite seem like itself after a long journey. Just like human jet lag, a wine can seem flat and tired for a period of time after traveling.
There's still no scientific explanation for this phenomenon, so any advice is based solely on anecdotal evidence, but fragile, older wines seem more susceptible to this condition, and younger, more robust wines less so. White wines also seem less affected than red wines. But no matter a wine's color, style or age, it's a good idea to give a bottle at least a few days if not weeks to rest in a cool, dark place away from light and temperature fluctuations after a journey.