I’m a guy, and I tend to break things. Back in my serious ski-racing days I even penned an article devoted entirely to these follies. When dealing with wine however, I am particularly cognizant of the fragile nature of the item. I can safely say that (insert sound of me knocking on wood here) when working in home cellars and on the winery production line, my breakage record stands at exactly 1 out 15,000 (filled) bottles.
These bottles have ranged in age from the early 1900′s through the 2008 vintage. That one bottle (a 2001 Rusden Black Guts Shiraz) has remained indelibly etched in my mind as a reminder to try and always be self-aware when moving wine around.
All that said, accidents do happen. A hand slips here, a case is set down off-kilter there, an over-exuberant gesture encounters a bottle that wasn’t there 10 seconds ago. As good as my personal record may be, these incidents are impossible to avoid.
Over time I’ve noticed a pattern (phenomena?) emerging. Bottles do not always immediately break. In fact, I’ve witnessed multiple incidents in which bottles have survived drops of up to six feet and remained fully intact. These bottles did not land on thick new carpeting either. No, I’m talking about bottles surviving falls onto concrete and tile floors because they bounce.
In three incidents I have actually managed to catch a bottle in mid-air after a first bounce. Along with saving dinner parties, this has kept my dream of being a major-league shortstop alive. Rarely have I seen a bottle survive a second bounce though. Bottles seem to shatter explosively on follow-up impacts.
What I’m wondering is whether the survival rate of dropped bottles onto hard surfaces is predictable.
Has anyone else experienced this phenomenon? Any input or thoughts on why some bottles survive a first bounce and others do not? Are there any bottle manufacturer metrics available regarding this issue?
In my experience, it seems as though there may be a slight corollary between filled bottles (versus empty) and survivability rates. I hypothesize that there is also a connection between the thickness of the bottom of the bottle, specifically the punt area, and the ability to have a glass of wine in your hand after a drop instead of a mop.
Maybe some video experimentation is in order…