Traveling Shock..Another Data Point...(long/boring)

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Traveling Shock..Another Data Point...(long/boring)

Postby TomHill » Wed Jun 06, 2007 12:15 pm

So spaketh young Oliver on the subject last week:

[QUOTE=Oliver McCrum]Tom,
I certainly won't debate the science with you, ahem, but shipping shock is very real from the
importer's perspective. I taste all the new wines off a container; some of them taste just the
way they did in Italy, some taste 'shocked'*, but a month later all of the wines taste about the
way they did in Italy. Sometimes the difference is dramatic.
* and the difference is consistent; much less aroma, much less fruit on the palate, making the
wines hollow. I believe this is the same difference one sees with bottling shock.[/QUOTE]
[QUOTE=Oliver McCrum]Tom,
Empirical, rather than anecdotal; and repeatable, which I know is something you science types
like. Every time a container comes in there are wines that taste less interesting, and usually
it's at least half the wines that are affected. And yes, of course one can compare it with
previous shipments. We do this all the time.
I don't know anyone who has the opportunity to make such comparisons regularly who doesn't agree
that shipping shock is real (which doesn't make it true, of course, but still...). It's a pain;
I have all this money invested in a wine and I have to stare at it for weeks until it shows its
stuff.
I'm sure you agree that the absence of an explanation for a phenomenon doesn't demonstrate the
non-existence of that phenomenon. Otherwise your work would be very dull, I think.
I should add that I ship in reefers, so changes in temperature are very much reduced. And that
I am only referring to the kind of shipping I do, as it's the only experience I have.
[/QUOTE]

So.....my latest stash of EdmundsStJohn arrived Monday afternoon. As I am wont to do...I cannot resist the siren song of these little btls whispering to me.."Drink me..no..drink me".
So...I pull out the TablasCreekVnyd Roussanne '04 to drink last night. Then...all of a sudden..the bells go on and the lights clang...I can put ol' Oliver to the test here.
So...I stick one fresh off the boat in my fridge and then go and retrieve one from the stash I got late last year & fridge it as well.
So, after fencing class, I crack open both:

1. EdmundsStJohn TablasCreekVnyd/PasoRobles Roussanne (14.5%; http://www.EdmundsStJohn.com) 2004: $33.00
_______________________
I mark one btl "N" for "new" and onb btl "O" for "old" in tiny letters in back, shuffle the btls around a bit so they're blind, and pour a glass from each btl and go to work:

Left: Light gold color, strong perfumed/floral/honeysuckle/Rouss slight smoky/chalky/minerally lovely nose; rich/ripe/lush tart quite floral/honeysuckle/Rouss some minerally/chalky lovely flavor; very long lush/ripe tart classic/Rouss/floral/honeysuckle slight minerally/chalky finish; a classic Calif Roussanne w/ richness and great acidity/balance

Right: Same light gold color; slightly less floral/aromatic/perfumed bit more chalky almost a slight floral/Viognier nose; tarter/leaner less lush/ripe/rich bit more chalky slight floral/Viog-like rather tight flavor; does not have quite the richness & lushness of the Left; a bit tighter and slightly hollow version of the left; the Right just doesn't quite sing like the Left.
______________________________________
Profundities from TheBloodyPulpit:
By Oliver's remarks, one would conclude the Right glass was fresh off the boat.
And the result from the back label...TaDa..

Left: Old
Right: New

So maybe Oliver was right, after all. There is a travel shock.

ButButBut...wait....this is a badly flawed experiment:
1. I did not account for btl variation. I should have opened up 5-6 btls of each sample and done the same comparison. If I'd gotten the same result, then, and only then, could I conclude there is a travel shock effect. Somehow...I just didn't feel up to a $360 experiment last night.
2. The Old btl was put into the new kitchen fridge. The New btl was put into the old/clunky fridge in the garage. The greater vibrations the New btl was subjected may have caused the result. The temperatures may have been slightly different.
3. The Moon had not yet risen in the East over the Sangres. My palate may have been out of sync because of the Lunar effects.

So it may be jumping to too hasty a conclusion to assert that there is a travel shock effect on wine based on this one experiment.

Last comment: Both the Left & Right glasses were a lovely glass of wine. As I drank the Right/New glass of Roussanne, I tried to think back to my experience I had w/ the wine some 2 months ago when I had my last btl of it. I don't think I could tell a differenct in the Right/New glass and my recollection of the wine from then.

So...anecdotally...there is no travel shock effect on wine. But empirically, given the above caveats, and many undiscussed ones; there is a travel shock effect on wine...but it seems a minor effect.

Just another data point.

IMHO...this EdmundsStJohn Roussanne '04 may be one of the greatest Roussannes made in Calif. Maybe not right now, but down the road. It is big/rich/ripe and lush; yet has a high acidity underneath and a nice minerality. I suspect this will go for 10-15 yrs yet. Amazing juice.

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Re: Traveling Shock..Another Data Point...(long/boring)

Postby Randy Buckner » Wed Jun 06, 2007 12:30 pm

Does anybody have any idea what he just said? :wink:
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Re: Traveling Shock..Another Data Point...(long/boring)

Postby James Roscoe » Wed Jun 06, 2007 12:40 pm

Randy Buckner wrote:Does anybody have any idea what he just said? :wink:


Or how many glasses of wine he had before he said it? :wink: :wink: :roll:
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Re: Traveling Shock..Another Data Point...(long/boring)

Postby Rahsaan » Wed Jun 06, 2007 12:44 pm

Glad to hear the wine is so good.

And the next level of tests could be comparing Shipping Shocked ESJ Roussanne with Shipping Shocked Other Roussanne (or other wines) because as you said it sounded pretty tasty even with the Shipping Shock.
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Re: Traveling Shock..Another Data Point...(long/boring)

Postby Oliver McCrum » Wed Jun 06, 2007 1:53 pm

Sorry, Tom, that sounds exactly like what I think of as shipping shock. The 'meat' of the wine recedes, so the 'bones' are more evident.
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Re: Traveling Shock..Another Data Point...(long/boring)

Postby Dan Donahue » Wed Jun 06, 2007 3:08 pm

I'm sold on bottle shock and I suspect that travel shock does effect some wines. The very easy solution is to wait a few weeks. Why take the chance?

Thanks for taking the time to try this.
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The Background...

Postby TomHill » Wed Jun 06, 2007 3:38 pm

Oliver & I had a discussion on eBob about the subject of travel shock (as distinguished from btl shock) last week. Most of all the stuff you hear/read about travel shock is purely anecdotal....this wine just came in and doesn't taste the way I think it should....or this wine just came in and doesn't taste like it did at the wnry several months ago. I don't put a lot of credance in such "evidence"...sorta like testimony on the efficacy of treating stomach cancer w/ spider wort or such.
In the late '70's (by crackey), my LosAlamos group did a study on travel shock that was published in Vintage Magazine (RIP). We simulated the effects of travel shock, did the requisite A/B comparison tastings, and the statistical analysis in all its gory details. Bottom line...we could NOT observe a travel shock effect in wine (6 whites/6 reds) on the 95% confidence level. That study led me to dismiss the effects of travel shock for lo these many yrs. I could not hypothesize a physics/chemistry scenario that would explain travel shock.
Oliver countered that he HAD observed shipping shock in the wines he imports. Not just anecdotal evidence ("it didn't quite taste like a remember it tasting at the wnry in Italy several months ago") but cited his empirical evidence. He'd tasted the same wine, just off the boat, against the same wine he had brought over 6mo -1 yr before that had been rested in his warehouse. I trust Oliver's observations implicitly.
So when I had the same opportunity to do the experiment on travel shock myself and collect my own emperical data, I jumped at it last night.
So...now I am much less likely to poo-poo the effects of travel shock on a wine. I think it's a small effect, but that I believe it DOES exist. I still don't know the mechanism that explain why travel shock happens. But I belive it does.
This is, of course, based on a single data point. But, what the hey, I'm a LosAlamos guy. We can make the grandest of extrapolations from one data point. Sometimes...even from NO data!! :-)
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Re: The Background...

Postby Randy Buckner » Wed Jun 06, 2007 3:48 pm

We can make the grandest of extrapolations from one data point. Sometimes...even from NO data!!


Uh oh! We must be getting ready to attack Iran...

When I lived in Hawaii, we kept our house in Washington. Every few months I would take 10 cases of wine from my WA cellar to consume in HI. Just that trip alone made the wine less pleasurable for 3-4 weeks. It is anecdotal, but very real for my palate. Older wines seemed to suffer more than the younger ones BTW.
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Re: The Background...

Postby Dale Williams » Wed Jun 06, 2007 4:13 pm

Thanks for the post, and the experiment. I'm an agnostic re travel shock, but still try pretty hard to let bottles rest. My feeling is that lots of people (most ITB and more experienced than I) believe in it. I've had some recently shipped bottles that weren't up to snuff, but then I've had bottles from the middle of a case that weren't. But as the disbelievers in travel shock say "no difference", and the believers say "better when rested", I can't see the percentage in opening just-shipped bottles- no one says they get worse!
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Re: The Background...

Postby James Roscoe » Wed Jun 06, 2007 4:20 pm

If travel shock is a reality, how far does wine have to trave? By what means does it have to travel? Does taking your favorite red red burgundy from North Jersey into The City for an offline to meet JC cause travel shock? Does taking your favorite German Riesling on the subway cause travel shock. What if you are driving in from West Chester or where ever Dale lives? Since Dale is an agnostic on the issue, he doesn't care....


Just seeing if I can throw a molotov cocktail on this fire! :roll:

Edited for a certain wise ass.
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Re: The Background...

Postby Rahsaan » Wed Jun 06, 2007 6:41 pm

James Roscoe wrote:If travel shock is a reality, how far does wine have to trave?


I am no physicist but I think there is something in the distance travelled as opposed to merely shaking the wine that causes these problems. Which may be why Tom's onsite experiment didn't work.

But again, I'm not a physicist, this is just anecdotal concerning the effects of movement versus just extended swirling..
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Re: The Background...

Postby Dale Williams » Wed Jun 06, 2007 7:04 pm

hey, wiseass, it's Westchester. I think West Chester is in PA.

I cannot say a particular distance, but most people who are believer seem to limit the idea to cross-country or trans-Atlantic (I've never heard anyone weigh in on trans-Pacific, I guess I don't hang around with enough Aussie drinkers) travel. I generally don't hesitate to open a bottle after a trip to the store, or to carry a bottle to the city (train or car). It is particularly the idea of crossing the ocean (weeks of constant motion) that people refer to.

I'll modify my statement re travelling to the city (or from the store) to state that I generally am not a fan of carrying wine likely to be heavy in sediment to offlines. I generally try to double-decant first. If I feel the wine is too advanced to stand up to earlier air, I try pretty hard to be as gentle as possible in transport, and to give it some time to settle before serving.

Again, no science, just some experience and a general sense of "better safe than sorry."
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Re: The Background...

Postby Rahsaan » Wed Jun 06, 2007 7:12 pm

Dale Williams wrote:I generally don't hesitate to open a bottle after a trip to the store, or to carry a bottle to the city (train or car).


Yes, but long-distance train or car rides (3-6 hours) have not worked out well for offlines. In my experience.

Although "reasonable" commutes yes. No problem. Sediment aside.
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Re: The Background...

Postby Dale Williams » Wed Jun 06, 2007 8:31 pm

Rahsaan wrote:
Dale Williams wrote:I generally don't hesitate to open a bottle after a trip to the store, or to carry a bottle to the city (train or car).


Yes, but long-distance train or car rides (3-6 hours) have not worked out well for offlines. In my experience.

Although "reasonable" commutes yes. No problem. Sediment aside.


Yes, I'm referring to my village to city, which I typically take a train to Grand Central (30-35 minutes) then a subway for a short trip. If Betsy drives me, certainly less than an hour total.
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Re: The Background...

Postby James Roscoe » Wed Jun 06, 2007 8:37 pm

Dale Williams wrote:hey, wiseass, it's Westchester. I think West Chester is in PA. "


Sorry! :oops: I am sorry if I upset all you rich folk out in Westchester! :roll:
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Four For Four...

Postby TomHill » Fri Jun 08, 2007 12:03 pm

Repeated the test 3 more times over the last 3 days. Nailed the just arrived/traveled btl every time, at various temperatures and after sitting in the btl those 3 days.
The just arrived btl just seemed a bit brittle & hollow, not the richness & lushness of the one that had been here 6 months.
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Re: Traveling Shock..Another Data Point...(long/boring)

Postby Bob Henrick » Fri Jun 08, 2007 9:09 pm

Randy Buckner wrote:Does anybody have any idea what he just said? :wink:


I think he told me to not open one of my four bottles for at least a couple more years.
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Re: Traveling Shock..Another Data Point...(long/boring)

Postby Dan Smothergill » Sun Jun 10, 2007 7:37 pm

Stirring the pot on a Sunday afternoon-

Is Bottle Shock Real?
General Consensus: Sure
Best Evidence in Favor: Anecdotal
Mechanism: Unknown

Is Travel Shock Real?
General Consensus: Sure
Best Evidence in Favor: Anecdotal
Mechanism: Unknowm

Can Magnets Really Affect Wine?
General Consensus: Are you nuts?
Best Evidence in Favor: Anecdotal
Mechanism: Unknown
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Re: Traveling Shock..Another Data Point...(long/boring)

Postby Oliver McCrum » Mon Jun 11, 2007 2:38 pm

Dan Smothergill wrote:Stirring the pot on a Sunday afternoon-

Is Bottle Shock Real?
General Consensus: Sure
Best Evidence in Favor: Anecdotal
Mechanism: Unknown

Is Travel Shock Real?
General Consensus: Sure
Best Evidence in Favor: Anecdotal
Mechanism: Unknowm

Can Magnets Really Affect Wine?
General Consensus: Are you nuts?
Best Evidence in Favor: Anecdotal
Mechanism: Unknown


Noting that a given wine often or always tastes different after a certain treatment (bottling, shipping) is not 'anecdotal.' The only important attribute of wine is how it tastes, and in the last analysis the only instrument we can use to determine how it tastes is the human palate. The fact that it isn't objective in the way that eg a pH reading would be doesn't change its importance.

I have never met a person who is in a position to judge (winemaker or importer, for example) who doesn't acknowlege the existence of shipping shock (I am talking about ocean freight here, not a brief car-ride.)
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Re: The Background...

Postby OW Holmes » Mon Jun 11, 2007 3:30 pm

Dale Williams wrote:
Rahsaan wrote:
Dale Williams wrote:I generally don't hesitate to open a bottle after a trip to the store, or to carry a bottle to the city (train or car).


Yes, but long-distance train or car rides (3-6 hours) have not worked out well for offlines. In my experience.

Although "reasonable" commutes yes. No problem. Sediment aside.


Yes, I'm referring to my village to city, which I typically take a train to Grand Central (30-35 minutes) then a subway for a short trip. If Betsy drives me, certainly less than an hour total.


Just another data point. A friend (from Detroit) and I (from Grand Rapids), belong to the same hunting/fishing club in Northern Michigan. For me, its an hour and a half drive - for him, three and a half. When we are both going for the same weekend, we bring wine - sometimes pretty good wine. Sometimes aged wine. Our combined observations are: there is such a thing as travel shock, even (though extremely rarely) for a trip of an hour and a half, but much more often, and much more apparent, for three and a half hours. It is more evident on older wines than newer, even when sediment is not the issue. Wines taken to the club and left there for three our four weeks before consumption return to normal, or so close we cannot tell the difference. There may be no scientific explanation for it, and it certainly doesn't noticeably affect even half the wines (most of which have some age on them) but except in dire emergencies, we now transport our better wine early in the season, let it rest, and drink it over the balance of the year, bringing only young wine with us each weekend. (This weekend is, of course, an emergency because this is his first trip, and he will be bringing his stash on Friday.)
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Re: The Background...

Postby Dan Smothergill » Mon Jun 11, 2007 5:10 pm

Oliver wrote:
The only important attribute of wine is how it tastes, and in the last analysis the only instrument we can use to determine how it tastes is the human palate.


I agree. Actually, the point at issue is not whether the data come from the reports of tasters or from some (non-human) machine but whether the methodology and statistical analysis justify the conclusion: double-blind procedure, large enough N, differences that meet conventional levels of statistical significance, etc. Without this, data are no more than anecdotal in my book.

The other point I was trying to make, too indirectly I now see, is that some hypotheses are accepted as more plausible than others not so much because the data are better but because they fit our own personal experience or just plain seem more reasonable.

An example from the unreasonable end of the spectrum is the hypothesis that magnets can have some kind of effect on wine. Most dismiss this as nonsense. At risk of overstating the case, I would submit that the data supporting bottle-shock and travel-shock are probably no better than those supporting an effect of magnets. Any aspiring PhD's in enology in need of a thesis topic?
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Re: The Background...

Postby Oliver McCrum » Mon Jun 11, 2007 7:14 pm

Dan Smothergill wrote:Actually, the point at issue is not whether the data come from the reports of tasters or from some (non-human) machine but whether the methodology and statistical analysis justify the conclusion: double-blind procedure, large enough N, differences that meet conventional levels of statistical significance, etc. Without this, data are no more than anecdotal in my book.


Good jargon, but this seems to me the statistical equivalent of a quasi-scientific argument sometimes raised, that 'we don't know the mechanism by which shipping shock would work, therefore it doesn't exist.' The fact that you aren't aware of the likelihood of an occurrence doesn't make it somehow less substantial.


An example from the unreasonable end of the spectrum is the hypothesis that magnets can have some kind of effect on wine. Most dismiss this as nonsense. At risk of overstating the case, I would submit that the data supporting bottle-shock and travel-shock are probably no better than those supporting an effect of magnets. Any aspiring PhD's in enology in need of a thesis topic?


Statistically speaking, I would say the risk of overstating your case is approaching 100%, particularly if you are agreeing with me that shipping shock appears to be the same phenomenon as bottling shock. I would be surprised if you could find a single producer of wine who doubts bottling shock (or importer who doubts shipping shock, of course), and that is because they do a kind of experiment every time they bottle wine or ship wine. I don't know of a single wine professional who would say that of magnets.
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Re: The Background...

Postby Dale Williams » Mon Jun 11, 2007 8:30 pm

Oliver McCrum wrote:I don't know of a single wine professional who would say that of magnets.


Well, there is Anthony Diaz Blue.

I chose to act as if travel shock is a real danger, even if I have no empirical evidence to back me up. I think William of Occam was a swell guy, and his advice has served me well.

In the case of travel shock, while there are no studies that I know of, as Oliver points out virtually all importers believe in it. So is it easier to believe that their personal experiences (admittedly not blind) are a result of mass hysteria (although they weren't in a group), or that maybe wine suffers from major travel?

In the case of magnets, an enormous amount of scientific knowledge exists re magnetism. None of this knowledge supports the idea that magnets will "age" or improve wine. Quite a few amateurs have done wine/magnet studies, the better ones haven't shown an influence. The manfacturers of several of these devices have refused offers to do a simple controlled experiment.

Old Bill of Occam leads me to give credence to travel shock, and none to magnets. I'm willing to be convinced re either, but until then.....

Especially since I'm struggling to find the instance where not opening a bottle for a month caused me real harm. Even if travel shock doesn't exist, little damage.
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Re: The Background...

Postby Oliver McCrum » Mon Jun 11, 2007 8:55 pm

Dale Williams wrote:
Oliver McCrum wrote:I don't know of a single wine professional who would say that of magnets.


Well, there is Anthony Diaz Blue.



I rest my case.
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