Much to the agony of winemakers, wines that have recently been bottled occasionally develop bottle shock–a temporary condition wherein the wine tastes lifeless, as though it has lost its aromas and flavors. Bottle shock can happen to any wine. It is thought to be the result of the agitation and, possibly, exposure to oxygen that happens during bottling.

Winemakers, of course, easily recognize this condition since they have also tasted the wine before it was bottled and therefore have a point of comparison. Wine drinkers, however, may misinterpret a bottle-shocked wine as one that’s of poor quality. That said, to experience what a wine with bottle shock tastes like, you’d have to open it within a few days or perhaps a week of it having been bottled, since after the wine rests for a few weeks more, the bottle shock goes away and the wine tastes again as it originally did. Luckily, most wines for sale in shops and restaurants were bottled months if not years before, so the chances of encountering bottle shock are fairly slim.

Sidenote: Bottle Shock is also the title of a recent film released in 2008, a comedy about the early days of California wine making.

Bottle shock trailer