What is bottle shock?

by Laura Gray on January 17, 2012

Bottle-shock is the inevitable trauma that wine experiences when it is transferred to a new environment from a familiar one. In our case a wine ready for bottling goes first from wood to stainless steel. There we blend our Sangiovese from 3 different vineyards. Its final home is the sterilized bottle; cold, unyielding glass, makes me shiver just thinking of it. In response to this new environment, wines tend to get shy and retreat into themselves, even acting a bit sharp and uptight, before settling down and remembering who they really are. Bottle shock is characterised by muted or disjointed fruit flavours in the wine… jagged in short. The good news is that it is temporary and the wine will get over the shock by resting and recovering, working inside the bottle to reach a new equilibrium. The more tannins in a wine, the more recovery time necessary. Obligatory bottle aging for 4 months is part of the DOCG regulations which apply to all Brunellos. Riservas have to spend 6 months bottle aging. Bottle sickness more often refers to travel abuse of wine; continuous vibrations and changes in temperature can upset the elements of the wine. No need for a doctor or last rites; given time, the wine will recover its poise and balance.  

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