The Cure for ‘Bottle Sickness’ Is Patience

bottles.jpgWhen cans or bottles are filled with soft drinks… and when bottles or cartons are filled with milk… they’re immediately placed in case boxes and prepared for shipping to warehouses or their points of sale.

But when wine is bottled, it typically remains at the winery for a period of time — anywhere from a number of week to a number of years, depending on the variety.

Why is this?

Well, some varieties take longer than others to “smooth out” and reveal all of their aroma and flavor nuances. As a broad generalization, reds take longer than whites, and whites take longer than rosé-style wines.

But there’s another factor at play as well. It’s a phenomenon known as “bottle sickness” or “bottle shock.”

It’s a temporary condition that wine experiences when it’s first transferred from barrels or tanks into bottles. During the bottling process, the wine is exposed to oxygen and may be jostled around a bit, depending on the sophistication of the bottling equipment.

Think about what happens to a soft drink when it goes flat. Similarly, a wine that’s suffering from bottle shock can seem to be out of balance or lacking in flavor.

The good news is that this condition typically goes away within a few weeks or, at most, a few months. During this period, the wine is said to be “settling down,” and regaining its full aroma and flavor spectrum.

So, the best advice is to be patient. We all look forward to new vintages from our favorite wineries, but there isn’t a winemaker on Earth who will allow his or her wines to be released until they’re ready to be enjoyed.

As Orson Welles used to say in commercials for Paul Masson’s “Emerald Dry” back in the day, “We will sell no wine before its time.”

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Posted in Wine Buzz, Wine FAQ

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