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Mike Conner

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Wine Travel Shock . . . your suggestions/experiences sought

by Mike Conner » Tue Aug 15, 2006 6:34 am

OK, I'm still on the fence about attending MoCool . . .

BUT, that is not the reason for this post.

Let's say that I was going to attend at last moment's notice. As I live almost exactly 500 miles away, and I'm not flying, a trip in the vehicle is necessary. Past years, I have shipped my bottles at least a month in advance so they could show their best (just short trip from hotel to picnic, etc.). But, with my waffling this year, the overnight package has not been done.

So, here is my plans should I make the trip . . . (and I hope to drive no later than early Friday AM so as to make the evening gathering)

In the next few days, pull bottles that I plan to take and get them sitting upright for the trip. The best 6 bottles (a few for Friday, rest for Sat - unless some tasting happens for Sat AM, or Sunday early-ish) will be bubble wrapped and placed into my upright magnum styro shippers that I have (just 6 of them). The bubble wrapping will not be so tight or stiff so as to allow zero movement of the bottles, but I will have the bottles secured enough so they aren't exactly swimming around in the shippers. So, if I go over a large bump or make a quick stop, there is a smidge of give that will help to mitigate the overall forces on the bottle.

Any remaining bottles to make the trip will be lightly bubble wrapped and placed in the largest-sized upright styro shipper I have. I will then do my best to secure these boxes into the vehicle so they will not be prone to movement in the seat, or getting dumped over if I have to do one of those 'holy shit' sort of stops or swerves during the trip.

So, my thinking is thus . . . although there will certainly be some movement/vibrations of the wines, it should be slightly better than what occurs during normal shipment (no dropping out of the cargo hold, or the back of a truck).

Then, as soon as I hit the hotel room before Friday evening gathering, start the 'Andouze method' for giving the Friday wines their breathing by opening the wines carefully. Hopefully, this will be a couple of hours before the gathering, but knowing my consistency of travel timing, unlikely. Anyway, then re-pack and transport the bottles to the gathering. Might take one or two extras that aren't opened just in case, although I probably will make sure nothing corked when opening them early.

A little anal, I know. But, about the only means I can think of to try to have bottles show as best they can.

(of course, I'm not exactly sure I have experienced terribly travel shocked bottles at MoCool . . . but I do think some wines have shown less well than others. I am a firm believer in the idea of travel shock, as I have experienced it with some wines that have been shipped to me - not to mention the pita of having sediment all mixed up in your bottle after the trip)

Thanks,

Mike
Last edited by Mike Conner on Tue Aug 15, 2006 8:35 am, edited 1 time in total.


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David M. Bueker

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Re: Wine Travel Shock . . . your suggestions/experiences sought

by David M. Bueker » Tue Aug 15, 2006 7:56 am

Well all I can say is that unless it's an older wine with sediment I have never seen travel shock as a real threat. For those older wines usually 24-48 hours gives them time to settle down, except for the really crud filled bottles (e.g. older ports) which typically take longer.
There behind the glass lies a real blade of grass. Be careful as you pass. Move along. Move along.
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Re: Wine Travel Shock . . . your suggestions/experiences sought

by Mike Conner » Tue Aug 15, 2006 8:43 am

David,

Thanks for the note.

I guess I am probably well into the land of overkill, although the majority of the wines I'll be traveling with are bottles likely to have sediment... mostly Bordeaux from 1990 (wines from 1990 being one of the themes of this year's MoCool). And, I usually like to bring at least one or two true wine geek wines for the possible other gathering(s) that will occur - and for me, wine geek wines almost always means even older Bordeaux (although I have a few of those niche wine geek wines that I can bring, not to mention lotsa yummy Beaujolais from Y2k).

Now, why haven't I invented some sort of wine centrifuge that could eliminate the sediment issue?

Hmmmmm....

Mike


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Re: Wine Travel Shock . . . your suggestions/experiences sought

by Jenise » Tue Aug 15, 2006 8:59 am

Mike, there's one more important precaution you can take. Set the styro box on real soft bedroom pillows--it reduces the up/down road vibration to almost nil.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: Wine Travel Shock . . . your suggestions/experiences sought

by Mike Conner » Tue Aug 15, 2006 9:08 am

Jenise,

Hey, that is good!

Honestly never occurred to me that I ought to do that for the whole box . . .

Thanks,

Mike

(who will now have a couple of pillows dedicated to my wine traveling escapades)


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Re: Wine Travel Shock . . . your suggestions/experiences sought

by Jenise » Tue Aug 15, 2006 9:13 am

Mike Conner wrote:Jenise,

Hey, that is good!

Honestly never occurred to me that I ought to do that for the whole box . . .

Thanks,

Mike

(who will now have a couple of pillows dedicated to my wine traveling escapades)


Good! I don't wrap the individual bottles, I just float the box as much as I can. Pillows on the seat, box on the pillows, pillows between box and door and box and back of seat, seat belt ON.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: Wine Travel Shock . . . your suggestions/experiences sought

by Mike Conner » Tue Aug 15, 2006 9:24 am

Oh - yeah - shoulda said that my bottles always have traveled as safe as I do... full seat belt treatment, and if in the front seat, they get the passenger-side airbag as (hopefully) I will if the situation warrants!

I just sorta figured the extra bubble wrap for the wines that I plan to bring (most of them likely to have sediment) will be that much more cushion for the bottles... especially when normal 750ml shippers have extra space in their slots for the bottles to move around. And, given the magnum space, I can get lots of bubblewrap for that much more cushion. Adding the pillows, these bottles will arrive in as good a shape as if I had pulled them directly from my cellar! (although we always have the chance of having a small earthquake in these parts - certainly not what can occur on the west coast...)

Thanks,

Mike


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Re: Wine Travel Shock . . . your suggestions/experiences sought

by Jenise » Tue Aug 15, 2006 10:08 am

We figured out the pillow thing when we routinely drove 90 miles to have dinner/stay overnight with friends who were pinot fanatics. My personal experience is that pinot is the most temperamental of wines about getting moved, and it didn't take long to deduce that they suffered more in the Jeep than in the Lexus. The pillow padding to eliminate all hard surface contact is what finally guaranteed we could take any wine, anywhere. But until we figured that out, I can't tell you how many bottles of 'odd' wine we uncorked at J & A's that, the day after we left, turned into swans.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: Wine Travel Shock . . . your suggestions/experiences sought

by Robin Garr » Tue Aug 15, 2006 10:22 am

Mike, I hope you can make it! I find travel shock awfully unpredictable, and have had the regrettable experience of bringing a few treasures to offlines that didn't show as well as I hoped. I'm just sure that horrific Kentucky Norton I took to NYC last year would have been as good as Ch. Pavie if only I hadn't shaken it up. :oops:

Seriously, though, I'm with the others: Pamper your wine as much as you can, and as long as you drive reasonably carefully (hoping you don't need to do a lot of swerving or panic stops), your treasures should be just fine.

Just pity me: Thanks to Al Qaeda and Blair and Bush, I'll be entrusting my MoCool beauties to the gorillas in the baggage-handling department.
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Re: Wine Travel Shock . . . your suggestions/experiences sought

by Ian Sutton » Tue Aug 15, 2006 10:41 am

If you travelled on the thursday and maybe left the bottles at the venue, that would help.

A more radical solution is to travel a little later, but to double decant the wines and re-seal the bottles. Thus no sediment to awaken, though that does mean some exposure to air via the decanting, which might not be suitable for older wines.

Otherwise, maybe some compromise on the wines you take to avoid the ones that throw a massive sediment.

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Re: Wine Travel Shock . . . your suggestions/experiences sought

by Covert » Tue Aug 15, 2006 11:36 am

As others have commented, travel shock is not a matter of sediment. Something else happens to take subtleties and flair out of some wines.

Robert Parker conducted an experiment of shipping half a case to an event months prior to a tasting and traveling with the other half to the event. Blind tasters found the more recently traveled wines less appealing.

I hope that Jenise is right in blaming vibration more than sloshing. After all, you slosh the wine in your glass, but admittedly for a short time. My theory is that energy brought by vibration causes some kind of temporary electrostatic or hydrophobic molecular chain bonding, somewhat like a snake catching his tail in his mouth, so that the organic molecule can't combine with olfactory receptors and taste buds until it relaxes again.

Short of purchasing specialized equipment for the vibration free transportation of explosive liquids, which is not the best thing to do at the moment, pillows probably provide as propitious a prophylaxis as possible.
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Re: Wine Travel Shock . . . your suggestions/experiences sought

by Dale Williams » Tue Aug 15, 2006 12:51 pm

Robin Garr wrote:I'm just sure that horrific Kentucky Norton I took to NYC last year would have been as good as Ch. Pavie if only I hadn't shaken it up


Travel shock, yeah, that's the ticket.

I agree that travel shock is unpredictable. I've had bottles show beautifully after a plane trip, but a significant percentage (20-30% probably) have shown less well than I anticipated. YTou're always taking a chance.
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Re: Wine Travel Shock . . . your suggestions/experiences sought

by Ian Sutton » Tue Aug 15, 2006 1:14 pm

Covert wrote:As others have commented, travel shock is not a matter of sediment. Something else happens to take subtleties and flair out of some wines.

Here's another theory - that it is sediment, but that it's the early stage of sediment, not apparent to the naked eye.
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Re: Wine Travel Shock . . . your suggestions/experiences sought

by Covert » Tue Aug 15, 2006 1:34 pm

Ian Sutton wrote:Here's another theory - that it is sediment, but that it's the early stage of sediment, not apparent to the naked eye.


Maybe so, but I have never worried about sediment (almost never decant) and the wine tastes as bright to me when I take that last glass with sometimes plenty of sediment in it.

Perhaps other forum members can vouch for wine tasting worse with sediment. To me it obviously loses some mouth feel with gritty sediment and sometimes the sediment imparts a bitter taste. But I think we are talking about wine shutting down with travel, not just tasting a little bitter.

Or are you saying that only very fine sediment shuts a wine down?
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Re: Wine Travel Shock . . . your suggestions/experiences sought

by Jenise » Tue Aug 15, 2006 2:48 pm

I hope that Jenise is right in blaming vibration more than sloshing.


Actually, I blame both, it's just that Mike mostly had the sloshing covered where the pillows address the rest.

And I do also tend to think it's sediment--or at least microscopic particulate matter as Ian suggests. Certainly, my own experience has been that fined/filtered wines escape shock better than un-f'd wines.
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Re: Wine Travel Shock . . . your suggestions/experiences sought

by Covert » Tue Aug 15, 2006 4:04 pm

Jenise wrote:...my own experience has been that fined/filtered wines escape shock better than un-f'd wines.


That's pretty solid evidence. But what would you think the particles do to shut down a wine? What's the mechanism? They are inert, aren't they? I mean they have fallen out of solution, so they shouldn't be having any chemical effect. They might add a little bitterness, but they shouldn't take away other flavors, would they? And if they did, over time they would have the same effect even if they weren't shaken, since they were in the liquid. Stirring just makes a chemical reaction happen faster.

And you are saying that you haven't had a bottle that had been inadvertently shaken up that still tasted fine? But then again, you wouldn't have anything to compare it to; that's a problem with wine analysis, no two bottles are the same. I guess you could carefully pour off the top half of a bottle and shake up the rest and then compare the two halves.

One more thing. Don't a lot of people claim that distance matters? You would think that a bottle that was being shaken would get fine particles mixed in quickly so distance wouldn't be such a factor, whereas chemical reactions can take time.
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Re: Wine Travel Shock . . . your suggestions/experiences sought

by Jenise » Tue Aug 15, 2006 5:37 pm

Covert, agreed about no two bottles being the same. But let me describe something: years ago I was helping a Dutch friend through rehab. I shipped some wines over in my luggage, notably two producers of pinot noir. One showed beautifully but the other was a dog--not flawed, just STRANGE, hollow. And I'd had a bottle of the same wine at home just before leaving, I knew it was drinking beautifully. Eventually I came back home for a bit then returned to Holland. So, unsuspecting me took another set of the same two wines, the first because it had so impressed and the second to show how great the wine really is. And I had the identical experience with the two wines showing exceptionally well and very badly, respectively. The second wine, corked and refrigerated, eventually showed well after a week or two of relaxing. (These were wines I bought by the case so I had plenty to spare.) Anyway, one was filtered and the other wasn't, so I have always presumed this to be the difference I experienced in both situations. I've certainly not encountered any evidence to the contrary, and I've had plenty of foggy, confused wines when others brought unfiltered wines to my home and didn't think to secure the bottle(s) vertically. No science, all empirical, but in combination enough experience to feel certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that certain types of wines suffer more than others.
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Re: Wine Travel Shock . . . your suggestions/experiences sought

by Ian Sutton » Tue Aug 15, 2006 5:42 pm

Covert wrote:
Ian Sutton wrote:Here's another theory - that it is sediment, but that it's the early stage of sediment, not apparent to the naked eye.


Maybe so, but I have never worried about sediment (almost never decant) and the wine tastes as bright to me when I take that last glass with sometimes plenty of sediment in it.

Perhaps other forum members can vouch for wine tasting worse with sediment. To me it obviously loses some mouth feel with gritty sediment and sometimes the sediment imparts a bitter taste. But I think we are talking about wine shutting down with travel, not just tasting a little bitter.

Or are you saying that only very fine sediment shuts a wine down?

Sorry - only speculation on my part and little to back it up. For me, heavier sediment is an issue (those instances I've gone for the dregs and in comparison to what's gone before, it's none too pleasant).
regards
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