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Dear Dr. Vinny,
Will my wine be OK if it travels with me in the car over a thousand miles? I am worried about the jostling around. Another way to ask this question would be, does shipping wines alter the wine at all?
—Calder, Salem, Ore.
Travel can seem to affect wines negatively, but the concept of “travel shock” causes more disagreement than agreement in the wine world, since examples of it are based on anecdotal evidence. Some wines seem perfectly fine, but others seem disjointed or shut down after traveling. Older, more delicate wines (and possibly unfined and unfiltered wines) are particularly susceptible.
When traveling with wine, it doesn’t hurt to be cautious. We know that extended exposure to heat and temperature variability can damage your wines, so do your best to insulate them. Styrofoam shipping containers and ice packs would give your wine the most protection. If possible, don’t store your wine in the trunk, which can be much hotter than the passenger compartment, especially at this time of year. Avoid unnecessary vibrations like bumpy roads, if you can, and try not to store the wine directly over a wheel well. And once you arrive at your destination, you may want to let the wine settle for a few days or a week.
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