Have you ever really looked at the shape and color of your wine bottle?
Honestly, I think most bottles are beautiful. Our friend Terry at Keyways Winery used a whole assortment of them in the small bathroom window for privacy instead of a window treatment (if you don't remember how obsessed I was about her bathrooms, please look to the archives because her facilities are brilliant!).
But it's not pure aesthetics that drive the vintner to her choice of bottle. This is an article we found posted by the Wine Lady (don't you just love that?). She gave a concise lesson on wine bottles that I'm not soon to forget and although she did leave plenty of disclaimers I think that generally she hit everything head on.
The colors of the bottles are clear, blue or couple of different shades of green and brown. White wines come in all the colors while red wines only come in a couple. Wine does not like light so dark bottles are required for them. Red wines are the ones that can stay in a cellar for years, so they need dark colored bottles to keep out the light. Whites are usually meant to be consumed young, thus the reason for clear or light green bottles. Rieslings usually are sold in blue or brown bottles. Those colors represent certain areas of Germany. For example, brown bottles represent the Rhine area and green bottles the Mosel area. But this is just tradition, and is not always true.
The shapes of the bottles can usually tell you two things. One is where the wine is from. Think about that blue bottle of Riesling, tall and narrow with no shoulders. It is from Germany and it is an off-dry, or if you prefer, a sweet wine. Again, not always true. I have a green, tall and narrow bottle. It is from Portugal and is semi-off-dry with a bit of bubbles. Now picture a bottle of Chardonnay or Pinot Noir. That style of bottle is called Burgundy. Pinot Noir is less tannic and can be fruity, as well as Chardonnay. Those are the two grapes they grow in Burgundy. The bottles with the high shoulders are called Bordeaux bottles. They have high shoulder to help hold back the sediment when decanting the wine after it has aged. The wines sold in those bottles are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Bordeaux, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Sauvignon Blanc. Again, these are the typical grapes grown in Bordeaux. They have more tannins. It is the tannins that fall out and form the sediment the shoulders hold back.
Not many people notice the bottom of the bottles. Again, the next time you are looking at a bottle of wine, pick it up and look at the bottom. A Riesling will not have a punt. An expensive Merlot or Cabernet will have a deep punt. The punt is there to collect the sediment from the tannins falling out. It is there for the same reasons the high shoulders are. Rieslings are not meant to be aged, so no need for a punt. You will also notice the difference in the depth of the punts.
We would like to thank Sara Cujak of Fond du Lac, owner of Cujak's Wine Market, 74 S. Main St. for her full article please click here.