What is ‘Bottle Shock’?


‘Bottle shock’ or ‘bottle sickness’ is simply a stressing or unbalancing of the wine usually caused by putting the wine in bottles or vigorous movement of aged wine. It can occur while bottling where there is agitation and air or after travelling where the wine is shaken inside the bottle. It is often recognized by flat or muted flavours and aromas. It is said that it can dissipate anywhere from a few days to several weeks.

It is also thought to be the reason why a wine you tasted at winery tastes differently once you get it home.

Consider this, you purchase a wine you just tasted at the winery, and you loved it. Then you put it in the car, shake it, expose it to various temperatures then vibrate it all the way home. Now you open it that night and it just doesn’t taste the same. Go figure. Think of the wine relaxing, evolving and balancing beautifully in the bottle while it sleeps on the racks in a nice comfortable, cool and dark room. Then you take it from its boudoir and wake it and shake it from its slumber. Wouldn’t you be a little ‘shocked’ if this happened to you? For older or aged wines the solution is to let it relax for a few days and get balanced again.

For newly bottled wines, I find that the first 3 months after bottling is the most dramatic improvement. So, after bottling your wine or travelling about with it, let it rest for a few days and once again get balanced. If your wine is ‘shocked’ let it calm down for a bit.