Vino 101: How to Easily Decipher Wine Bottle Shapes

July 23, 2021

Vino 101: How to Easily Decipher Wine Bottle Shapes

Ever wondered why wine bottles come in different sizes? The shape of a bottle can tell you a lot about the types of grapes used and where they came from - or what inspired the winemaker! Interestingly though, the shape of the bottle doesn’t necessarily enhance the quality of the wine. Rather, the shape was originally determined by traditional glassblowing methods in the regions where the wine was made. So what are the different wine bottle shapes you’ll come across?

The Main Wine Bottle Shapes

There are a variety of wine bottle shapes out there, however the ones that you’d come across most often are the Bordeaux, the Burgundy, and the Alsace.

wine bottle anatomy infographic

Bordeaux Bottle 

As you might guess from the name, this design can be traced back to Bordeaux, France - arguably one of the most iconic wine regions in the world. This is also the most common shape for wine bottles. The bottle is defined by its straight sides, high shoulders, and straight neck. If you see this shape of bottle, you should expect to find any of the key Bordeaux varietals inside: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chenin Blanc. However the most common are the first two, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Burgundy Bottle

The Burgundy bottle is another popular shape, this time with roots to the Burgundy wine region. Unlike the Bordeaux, the Burgundy has a wider base and gentle lines that curve upwards into a slender neck — resembling a cone. The grapes most commonly associated with this bottle are Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, however you can also find Sauvignon Blanc housed in this bottle.

Alsace Bottle

Also known as the Germanic bottle or Hock bottle, the Alsace bottle is tall and thin (thinner than other wine bottles). They originate from the border between France and Germany. Although it’s a more sleek bottle and looks great on display, its length makes them more susceptible to slip out of wine racks. Nevertheless, they are a popular bottle for Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, and Grüner Veltliner.

Other Notable Wine Bottle Shapes

Now that we’ve covered the 3 main wine bottle shapes, let’s take a quick look at some other notable bottle shapes.

notable unique wine bottle shapes

Rhône Bottle

The Rhône bottle is very similar to the Burgundy bottle, except it is taller and has a longer neck. Typically you’ll find wines such as Grenache, Mourvedre, Viognier, Syrah, Marsanne, and Roussanne housed in these bottles.

Champagne Bottle

Another bottle shape that is similar to the Burgundy, Champagne bottle shapes are designed to withstand the pressure of sparkling wine. This means that it is often much heavier and made using thicker glass.

Provence Bottle

Originating from Côtes de Provence, the Provence bottle has a unique shape that can resemble a bowling pin, an hourglass, and even a corset.

Bocksbeutel Bottle

A flattened ellipsoid, the Bocksbeutel is commonly used for wines from Franconia in Germany, but also for some Portugese wines. The design is based on traditional field bottles (canteens) which were designed for practical purposes — namely to keep the bottle from rolling away. Today, in the EU, the Bocksbeutel enjoys a status of protected bottle shape.

Port Bottle

The Port bottle shape is the main bottle in which you’ll find fortified wines like Port, Sherry, and Madeira. The shape is similar to a Bordeaux bottle except with a bulb in the neck, which helps trap excess sediment during pouring.

Why Do Wine Bottles Have a Concave Bottom?

The final aspect of a wine bottle’s shape that can differ between bottles is its bottom. Officially known as the punt, this depression on the bottom of a wine bottle can be deeper in some than others. Why? It helps strengthen the glass. This is more imported for sparkling wines such as Champagne where the bottle needs to withstand higher pressures. However, other than that the punt has no real contribution to the quality of your wine. Another benefit of a deep punt is during service. A deeper punt makes it easier to support the bottle with your thumb as you’re pouring wine for guests.

However, this punt can actually add costs to the bottle as it’s cheaper to produce a bottle without it. So with this being said, the shape or depth of the punt is usually down to the winemaker’s visual preference more than anything else.

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