Bad Vibrations: How it Affects the Quality of Wine

Woman hand with wine bottle pouring a row of glasses for tasting

Any wine collector worth his salt would tell you to avoid vibration in the wine cellar because it is bad for any precious vintage. Many warehouses, wine collectors, and even wholesalers store their products in stillage cages because it provides the stability the bottles need.

But why does shaking ruin the wine? Experts have two theories about this matter—sediment and chemical reaction.

The Sediment Theory

According to the proponents of the sediment theory, fining settles at the bottom of the wine bottle as it ages. This leaves the pure liquid on top of the bottle. If it experiences a slight vibration, the sediments will not settle but would mix with the rest of the wine and adversely affect its flavour. Wine connoisseurs usually decant their wine for this very reason.

The Chemical Reaction Theory

Some experts suspect that chemical reactions influence the ageing of the wine over time. When you shake the bottle, the movement affects the wine adversely.

It increases the propanol and isoamyl alcohol content of the wine causing it to taste too sweet and less aromatic. It also produces more ethyl acetate, similar in smell to nail polish remover, causing it to smell like fuel. It creates a decrease in the levels of esters, succinic acid, and tartaric acid. These are the main acids in wine, and with lesser amounts, your vintage will taste dull.

The Jury’s Still Out

But even with these theories, many wholesalers and collectors do not worry too much about vibration. They worry far more about proper storage and delivery without breakage. In any case, vibration does affect bouquet and flavour when wine is ready for drinking, and red wine needs to rest in an upright position for a few days for the fining to settle.

Whether you subscribe to any one of these theories or both, you know that vibration is bad for your wine and must be avoided. A stillage cage is one way you can prevent this if you are storing wine in a warehouse or have a wine cellar.