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Why are vibrations harmful to wine? – Ask Decanter

We are told to keep wine away from vibrations when storing it, buy why is this?

Why are vibrations harmful to wine?

Alan Godfrey, via email, asks: We are encouraged to store wines horizontally in a cool cellar with a constant temperature of 10°C, that boasts good humidity and is ‘free from vibration’.

How does vibration spoil a wine if the other required storage elements are present?

Andy Howard MW replies: Correct storage of wine (particularly fine wines) is important, with the dangers of high temperatures, excessive variation in temperature, low humidity and strong light being obvious things to avoid.

Vibration is also a danger, but the science behind this is less easy to understand.

How to choose where to store wine

A 2008 study noted that excessive vibration results in a number of undesirable issues.

Vibration can disturb sediment present in the bottle, but it also causes complex chemical reactions which are less visible.

Vibration (and the resulting increased kinetic energy in the bottle) leads to a decrease in tartaric and succinic acids, causing a reduction in esters, which dulls flavours.

Vibration also increases the amount of propanol in a wine (reducing aromatics), raises isoamyl alcohol (accentuating acetone notes) and results in a higher refractive index, which makes a wine taste sweeter.

The 2008 study referred to here was published in the Journal of Food Composition and Analysis. The article was entitled: ‘Effect of vibration and storage on some physico-chemical properties of a commercial red wine’.

Decanter magazine’s July 2018 issue will be on general sale from 6 June.

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