There are old legends that persist and seem to be ineradicable. Meat must be seared hot because then the pores close and no juice escapes. Oaks you shall give way, beeches you shall seek. But hopefully, everyone knows by now that it is no safer under a beech than under an oak in a thunderstorm. Also, everything that has to do with wine and its enjoyment are perceived by many people as particularly mysterious and unfathomable, which may be a good breeding ground for equally old and false legends. Among them is the legend that wine must be stored without being shaken. “Wine should be stored in a dark, odorless, well-ventilated and vibration-free environment with a constant temperature of 12-16 °C and a humidity of 70-95%,” can still be found in reputable sources. All correct (60% humidity is also perfectly okay, at 90% the labels will rot, which does not harm the wine), only the absence of vibrations is at least as indifferent to the wine as the sack of rice in China. Where does this legend come from? Even before the advent of refrigeration technology and the automobile, people had noticed that wines that had lain unmoved in cool castle cellars for decades had matured particularly well. Following Adolf Tegtmeier’s example, wine drinkers at that time though: “If you don’t know it yourself, you’ll have to explain it to yourself”, and thought about what could have happened differently to the good wines from the old chateau cellars than to those that had been moved around a lot, for example from the Parisian city apartment. No vibrations! Has this ever been scientifically confirmed? No – it was never investigated at all until 2008. The fact that it was not the vibrations but the heat, the temperature fluctuations, and the light that affected the wine during summer transport in the carriage went unnoticed. Vibrations were never separated from the other storage conditions and their influence was never scientifically investigated, the legend was in the world and was perpetuated until today without being questioned.

An example from the study: The concentration of glucose was measured here at 5-time points over a period of 18 months, whereby the bottles were permanently exposed to 4 different levels of vibration (from 1 Gal to 20 Gal). The concentration of glucose can increase, for example, by hydrolysis of flavonol glycosides or decrease by esterification, ethyl glycoside formation with ethanol, or rearrangements.

What can shocks and vibrations do chemically and physically? From a chemical point of view: nothing. Couldn’t kinetic energy be supplied that triggers reactions in the truest sense of the word? Every physicist knows that supplied kinetic energy is first converted into heat, which raises the temperature. Obviously, there is no relevant temperature increase due to vibrations. Could vibrations perhaps accelerate the molecules and make them collide with more energy? Well, the temperature is nothing else than the movement of molecules, and water molecules move at about 15°C with a speed of more than 1200 km/h – sounds strange, but it is so. So the 1 km/h of vibrations does not make the difference. Physically, something can happen: the deposit could adhere less firmly to the glass – it is not really stirred up by light vibrations, for which the wine cellar would have to travel at 50 km/h over a pothole track, which rarely happens. The growth of tartrate crystals could possibly be disturbed as well; smaller, but more crystals would then form. In 2008 there was really a publication* about the influence of vibrations on wine, and indeed it was found: Vibrations influence the aging of wine! I had to take a closer look at that! A closer look at the reported data reveals that differences were measured in the analyses of a wide variety of ingredients over a period of 18 months with different levels of vibration, but with the methods used and sample sizes (3 bottles), it would have been a miracle if no differences had been found between the bottles. Every wine drinker knows that there are bottle variations even if the bottles were stored next to each other in the same case. A clear direction of the variations found in dependence of the vibrations cannot be determined, rather the concentrations of the analyzed wine components scatter upwards and downwards without a connection with the vibrations becoming apparent. The fact that the Korean authors of the study come to the conclusion that vibrations could possibly have an effect on the wine quality is probably due to the fact that the study was paid for by the LG electrical company, which had just launched its wine climate cabinets with “Inverter Linear Compressor” technology on the market, which is advertised with reduced vibrations. What the study’s data actually shows, when looked at closely, is that there is bottle variation in wine that leads to certain fluctuations in various ingredients during aging, with no discernible influence from vibration. *H.-J. Chung et al., Journal of Food Composition and Analysis 21 (2008) 655–659