Wine bottle

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A bottle showing the transparent green of many wine bottles
A square wine bottle.

A wine bottle is a bottle used for holding wine, generally made of glass. Some wines are fermented in the bottle, others are bottled only after fermentation.

Recently, the bottle has become a standard unit of volume to describe sales in the wine industry, measuring 750 millilitres (26 imp fl oz; 25 US fl oz).[citation needed] However, bottles are produced in a variety of volumes and shapes.

Wine bottles are traditionally sealed with cork, but screw-top caps are becoming popular, and there are several other methods used to seal a bottle.[1][2][3]

Sizes[edit]

Many traditional wine bottle sizes are named for Biblical kings and historical figures. The chart below[4] lists the sizes of various wine bottles in multiples relating to a standard bottle of wine, which is 0.75 litres (0.20 US gal; 0.16 imp gal) (five 150 mL servings). The "wineglassful"—an official unit of the apothecaries' system of weights—is much smaller at 2.5 imp fl oz (71 ml).

Most champagne houses are unable to carry out secondary fermentation in bottles larger than a magnum due to the difficulty in riddling large, heavy bottles. After the secondary fermentation completes, the champagne must be transferred from the magnums into larger bottles, which results in a loss of pressure. Some believe this re-bottling exposes the champagne to greater oxidation and therefore results in an inferior product compared to champagne which remains in the bottle in which it was fermented.[5]

Volume (litres) Ratio Name Notes Champagne Bordeaux Burgundy
0.1875 0.25 Piccolo "Small" in Italian. Also known as a quarter bottle, pony, snipe or split. Yes
0.25 0.33 Chopine Traditional French unit of volume Yes
0.375 0.5 Demi "Half" in French. Also known as a half bottle. Yes Yes Yes
0.378 0.505 Tenth One tenth of a US gallon*
0.5 0.67 Jennie
[citation needed]
Also known as a 50 cl bottle. Used for Tokaj, Sauternes, Jerez, as well as several other types of sweet wines.
0.620 0.83 Clavelin Primarily used for vin jaune.
0.750 1 Standard Yes Yes Yes
0.757 1.01 Fifth One-fifth of a US gallon*
1.0 1.33 Litre Popular size for Austrian wines.
1.5 2 Magnum Yes Yes Yes
2.25 3 Marie Jeanne Also known as a Tregnum or Tappit Hen in the port wine trade. Yes
3.0 4 Jeroboam (a.k.a. Double Magnum) Biblical, First king of Northern Kingdom. "Jeroboam" has different meanings (that is, indicates different sizes) for different regions in France.[6] Yes Yes Yes
4.5 6 Yes
4.5 6 Rehoboam Biblical, First king of separate Judea Yes Yes
6.0 8 Imperial Yes
6.0 8 Methuselah Biblical, Oldest Man Yes Yes
9.0 12 Salmanazar Biblical, Assyrian King Yes Yes Yes
12.0 16 Balthazar One of three Wise Men (according to legend) to present gifts at Jesus' nativity Yes Yes Yes
15.0 20 Nebuchadnezzar[7] Biblical, King of Babylon Yes Yes Yes
18.0 24 Melchior One of three Wise Men (according to legend) to present gifts at Jesus' nativity Yes Yes Yes
20.0 26.66 Solomon Biblical, King of Israel, Son of David Yes
25.0 33.33 Sovereign Yes
27.0 36 Primat or Goliath Biblical, stoned by David Yes
30.0 40 Melchizedek or Midas Biblical, King of Salem Yes

* For many years, the US standard (non-metric) wine and liquor bottle was the "fifth", meaning one-fifth of a US gallon, or 25.6 US fluid ounces (757 ml; 26.6 imp fl oz). Some beverages also came in tenth-gallon, half-gallon and one-gallon sizes. In 1979, the US adopted the metric system for wine bottles, with the basic bottle becoming 750 ml, as in Europe.[citation needed]

Shapes[edit]

Side-by-side comparison of various sizes of champagne bottles (left to right), on the ladder: magnum, full, half, and quarter; on the floor: Balthazar, Salmanazar, Methuselah, and Jeroboam.
Bocksbeutel shaped wine bottle
Burgundy bottles

Wine producers in Portugal, Italy, Spain, France and Germany follow the tradition of their local areas in choosing the shape of bottle most appropriate for their wine.

  • Port, sherry, and Bordeaux varieties: straight-sided and high-shouldered with a pronounced punt. Port and sherry bottles may have a bulbous neck to collect any residue.
  • Burgundies and Rhône varieties: tall bottles with sloping shoulders and a smaller punt.
  • Schlegel variety, predominantly used in German wine growing regions: similar to Burgundy bottles, but more slender and elongated.
  • Rhine (also known as hock or hoch), Mosel, and Alsace varieties: narrow and tall with little or no punt.
  • Champagne and other sparkling wines: thick-walled and wide with a pronounced punt and sloping shoulders.
  • German wines from Franconia: the Bocksbeutel bottle.
  • The Chianti and some other Italian wines: the fiasco, a round-bottomed flask encased in a straw basket. This is more often used for everyday table wines; many of the higher-grade Chianti producers have switched to Bordeaux-type bottles.

Many North and South American, South African, and Australasian wine producers select the bottle shape with which they wish to associate their wines. For instance, a producer who believes his wine is similar to Burgundy may choose to bottle his wine in Burgundy-style bottles.

Other producers (both in and out of Europe) have chosen idiosyncratic bottle styles for marketing purposes. Pere-Anselme markets its Châteauneuf-du-Pape in bottles that appear half-melted. The Moselland company of Germany has a riesling with a bottle in the shape of a house cat.

The home wine maker may use any bottle, as the shape of the bottle does not affect the taste of the finished product. The sole exception is in producing sparkling wine, where thicker-walled bottles should be used to handle the excess pressure.

Most wine bottles standards have a bore (inner neck) diameter of 18.5 at the mouth of the bottle and increase to 21 mm before expanding into the full bottle.

Colors[edit]

The traditional colors used for wine bottles are:

  • Bordeaux: dark green for reds, light green for dry whites, colorless for sweet whites.
  • Burgundy and the Rhone: dark green.
  • Mosel and Alsace: dark to medium green, although some producers have traditionally used amber.
  • Rhine: amber, although some producers have traditionally used green.
  • Champagne: Usually dark to medium green. Rosé champagnes are usually a colorless or green.

Clear colorless bottles have recently become popular with white wine producers in many countries, including Greece, Canada and New Zealand. Dark-colored bottles are most commonly used for red wines, but many white wines also still come in dark green bottles. The main reason for using colored or tinted glass is that natural sunlight can break down desirable antioxidants such as vitamin c and tannins in a wine over time, which affects storability and can cause a wine to prematurely oxidise. Dark glass can prevent oxidation and increase storage life. It is therefore mostly ready-to-drink white wines with a short anticipated storage lifespan which are bottled in clear colorless bottles.

Foils[edit]

A paper strip beneath the foil

Commercial corked wine bottles typically have a protective sleeve called a foil (commonly referred to as a "capsule") covering the top of the bottle, the purpose of which is to protect the cork from being gnawed away by rodents or infested with the cork weevil and to serve as collar to catch small drips when pouring. The foil also serves as a decorative element of the bottle's label. Foils were historically made of lead; however, because of research showing that trace amounts of toxic lead could remain on the lip of the bottle and mix with the poured wine,[8] lead foil bottleneck wrapping were slowly phased out, and by the 1990s,[9] most foils were made of tin, heat-shrink plastic (polyethylene or PVC), or aluminium or polylaminate aluminium. Sealing wax is sometimes used, or the foil can be omitted entirely.[10] In the US, the FDA officially banned lead foils on domestic and imported wine bottles as of 1996.[11]

Some bottles of wine have a paper strip beneath the foil, as a seal of authenticity, which must be broken before the bottle can be uncorked.

Punts[edit]

An empty (Bordeaux-style) wine bottle with a punt at its base.

A punt, also known as a kick-up, refers to the dimple at the bottom of a wine bottle. There is no consensus explanation for its purpose. The more commonly cited explanations include:[1]

  • It is a historical remnant from the era when wine bottles were free blown using a blowpipe and pontil. This technique leaves a punt mark on the base of the bottle; by indenting the point where the pontil is attached, this scar would not scratch the table or make the bottle unstable.
  • It had the function of making the bottle less likely to topple over—a bottle designed with a flat bottom only needs a small imperfection to make it unstable—the dimple historically allowed for a larger margin of error.
  • It consolidates sediment deposits in a thick ring at the bottom of the bottle, preventing much/most of it from being poured into the glass; this may be more historical than a functional attribute, since most modern wines contain little or no sediment.[12]
  • It increases the strength of the bottle, allowing it to hold the high pressure of sparkling wine/champagne.
  • It provides a grip for riddling a bottle of sparkling wine manually in the traditional champagne production process.
  • It consumes some volume of the bottle, allowing the bottle to appear larger for the same amount of wine, which may impress the purchaser.[13]
  • Taverns had a steel pin set vertically in the bar. The empty bottle would be thrust bottom-end down onto this pin, puncturing a hole in the top of the punt, guaranteeing the bottle could not be refilled [folklore].
  • It prevents the bottle from resonating as easily, decreasing the likelihood of shattering during transportation.
  • It allows bottles to be more easily stacked end to end.[13]
  • Bottles could be stacked in cargo holds on ships without rolling around and breaking.
  • It makes the bottle easier to clean prior to filling with wine. When a stream of water is injected into the bottle and impacts the punt, it is distributed throughout the bottom of the bottle and removes residues.

Environmental impact[edit]

Glass retains its color on recycling, and the United Kingdom has a large surplus of green glass because it imports a large quantity of wine but produces very little. 1.4 million tons are sent to landfill annually.[14]

Glass is a relatively heavy packing material and wine bottles use quite thick glass, so the tare weight of a full wine bottle is a relatively high proportion of its gross weight. The average weight of an empty 750 ml wine bottle is 500 g (and can range from 300 to 900 g), which makes the glass 40% of the total weight of the full bottle.[15] This has led to suggestions that wine should be exported in bulk from producer regions and bottled close to the market. This would reduce the cost of transportation and its carbon footprint, and provide a local market for recycled green glass.[16][17] Less radically, box wine is sold in large-size light cardboard and foil containers, though its use has been restricted to cheaper products in the past and as such retains a stigma. Following declining sales of wine boxes in the UK, in 2009 the Office for National Statistics removed them from its Consumer Price Index measure of inflation.[18] Some wine producers are exploring more alternative packagings such as plastic bottles and tetra packs.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Johnson, Hugh (2004). The Story of Wine. Sterling Publishing. ISBN 1-84000-972-1. 
  2. ^ Jackson, Ron (1997). Conserve Water, Drink Wine: Recollections of a Vinous Voyage of Discovery. Haworth Press. ISBN 1-56022-864-4. 
  3. ^ MacNeil, Karen (2001). The Wine Bible. Workman. ISBN 1-56305-434-5. 
  4. ^ Wine 101: Wine Bottle Sizes and DesignationsTemplate:Date=November 2014
  5. ^ "Champagne Bottle Sizes". Retrieved 11 April 2014. [self-published source]
  6. ^ "Jeroboam Wine Facts". Retrieved 26 December 2008. [self-published source]
  7. ^ Manser, Martin H.; Pickering, David H., eds. (2003). The Facts On File dictionary of classical and biblical allusions. New York, NY: Checkmark Books. p. 257. ISBN 9780816048687. 
  8. ^ Fisher, Lawrence M. (2 August 1991). "Lead Levels in Many Wines Exceed U.S. Standards for Water". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 January 2010. 
  9. ^ [1][dead link]
  10. ^ "30 Second Wine Advisor". wineloverspage.com. Retrieved 2 January 2010. [self-published source]
  11. ^ "Justia :: 21 C.F.R. § 189.301 Tin-coated lead foils for wine bottles". Law.justia.com. 8 February 1996. Retrieved 2 January 2010. 
  12. ^ (MacNeil 2001)
  13. ^ a b "Punt Wine Bottle Indentation". Wineintro.com. Retrieved 2 January 2010. [self-published source]
  14. ^ Hickman, Leo (9 May 2006). "Is it OK ... to drink wine?". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 November 2007. 
  15. ^ "The WRAP Wine Initiative". Retrieved 14 September 2011. 
  16. ^ Lamb, Garth. "Carbon copy". Waste Management & Environment. Retrieved 22 November 2007. "If wine was imported in bulk vats and then bottled locally, the market for the most beneficial recycling option would increase." 
  17. ^ "New Wine Bottle Project" (Press release). British Glass. 15 September 2006. Retrieved 22 November 2007. 
  18. ^ "Chicken in the basket of UK goods". BBC. Retrieved 15 November 2013. "Wine boxes, MP3 players and rentals from DVD hire shops have been removed to make way, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said." 

External links[edit]