Here is the sixth in our series of Another Wine Bytes; information about wine you can use to impress your friends (but not in an obnoxious way, of course!)
AWByte #6 – What is Bottle Shock?
Bottle shock, or bottle sickness is the term used to describe a temporary condition that occurs in wine immediately after corking, when large amounts of oxygen are absorbed either in excess amounts or too quickly during the bottling process.
The oxidation comes from acetaldehyde [as-ih-TAL-Duh-hide], a colorless, volatile, and water-soluble element naturally found in grapes. Acetaldehyde occurs naturally in ripe fruit, coffee, and fresh bread, and is produced by plants as part of their normal metabolism. It is popularly known as the chemical that causes hangovers as most acetaldehyde ultimately converts to ethanol, the alcohol found in wine.
Bottle shock can also be caused if sulfur dioxide was added during the bottling process. The effect on the wine is a flatness of aroma and flavor, sometimes accompanied by an unpleasant odor. It can also occur when your wine becomes stressed from the excessive jostling of the bottles during shipping; especially if the bottles travel from California Wine Country to parts south and southwest on a long circuitous journey in an un-air-conditioned brown truck in the middle of the summer. If jostled in a heated brown truck too much, you can end up with an unintentional madiera.
According to one source, rather heavy on alliteration; “one month in a dark, cool, temperature-stable place seems to be an adequate period of repose for a wine to regain its intended character.”
Bottle Shock is also a great little indie film, now out on DVD, starring Alan Rickman and Bill Pullman, that is very entertaining and more enjoyable than I anticipated.
The story of the early days of California wine making featuring the now infamous, blind Paris wine tasting of 1976 that has come to be known as “Judgment of Paris”.
The film received mixed reviews but I thought it utterly enjoyable while polishing off a bottle of the 2007 Seghesio Zinfandel from Sonoma County, that we have been hoarding since it made #10 in Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of 2008.
I suppose we should have been drinking a Chateau Montelena Napa Valley Chardonnay, but given that we’d have to sell our souls for a bottle of the 1973, we decided to zin, instead, to save our souls.
(Yes, I can hear you groaning!)
If you haven’t had the pleasure, see Bottle Shock for yourself. Come back and visit and tell us what you think.
And that’s this week’s “Another Wine Byte!”