Andrew Villarreal
March 13, 2022 | Andrew Villarreal

Why That Bottle

Hello there fellow wine enthusiasts!  Have you ever wondered why a bottle of wine looks the way it does? The size, the shape, the color? Have you ever wondered what a winemaker has to decide on when choosing a wine bottle? Hopefully I can shed some light and give you some insight as to what goes into making a wine bottle and why wine makers choose that glass, that shape, that color, that size.

Certain wine shapes are associated with different styles of wine. Throughout the years, it’s pretty much tradition that wine bottles have taken their form from hundreds of years of tradition. There are a few different shapes that date back to the 17th century, the Bordeaux, the Burgundy, and the Rhine shaped bottles. The Bordeaux bottle is most commonly used with Cabernet Sauvignon and  Merlot. The classic stocky shape  with broad shoulders, is usually used to bottle heavier reds. The Burgundy, with it's slightly sloped shoulders and a pear shape, is used for traditional Burgundian grapes Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, as well as Grenache and Syrah  can be found in this shape. The Rhine, a tall, slender bottle with deep sloping shoulders, is typically associated with Riesling and other grapes from the German/ Austrian region. Grapes like Pinot Blanc and Gewurztraminer.  The Chianti Fiasco, a stocky squat bottle usually wrapped in a straw basket, has been used in the Tuscany region of Italy since the 1300’s. The standard bottle size is 750 milliliters (ml). There are different sizes that a winemaker can use for different presentation and aging capabilities. Such as “Magnum”, “Jeroboam”, or “Split”. 

The color of the glass is very important because a dark colored glass will provide more protection from the damaging effects of light.  Clear glass offers no protection whereas dark green or brown glass will offer more protection which will allow a wine to age carefully over time. 

The weight of a wine bottle is also important for presentation and protection during transportation.  A sparkling wine bottle is typically going to be heavier and thicker than other wine bottles because of the large amount of pressure built up inside. There are eco-friendly wine glasses used in bottle making, that are thinner and weigh less.  The purpose of the exercise is threefold, to use less material, be more cost effective for transporting from place to place, and lastly, but more importantly, the hope that we'll be reducing greenhouse gases and thus shrink our carbon footprint. 

Speaking of sparkling wine, did you ever wonder why there was that deep indentation at the bottom of the bottle? That is called the “Punt”, and this indentation helps to disperse the pressure within the bottle of sparkling wine. An interesting fact.  Before the 1600’s the wine bottles had a flat bottom and thinner glass. It was reported that up to 80 percent of champagne bottles would be lost due to the pressure building too much within the bottle and exploding. After this period the French switched from wood to coal to heat their glass blowing operations which was able to melt thicker glass and the advent of the punt came about in 1662. 

So many things go into the design and decision making process, from the size, shape, color, and label. A wine bottle is alluring and calls us to pick it up and take it home with us. Stay tuned for more fun facts and tips on wine and the wine world. Check us out for more on what’s the difference between cork and screw cap and choosing a wine bottle based on a wine label.


Andrew Villarreal



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