Bottle Basics

Man, oh, man!  The youngest of my sisters (Emma) just got home and she has been wrapping up a storm.  She hasn’t put labels on ALL of the gifts under the tree, yet, but I am almost certain that they are mostly for me.  I have been a very good boy this year, and if I didn’t already know this, my mom tells me at least three times a day.  I love making her so proud!

Anyways, thinking of all those presents (hopefully my presents) getting wrapped in such pretty paper got me to thinking about how Mom and Dad choose the wrapping for all the wonderful wines we sell in our tasting room.  I’ve noticed that there are basically just three different types of bottles, so I figured it would be pretty easy to research the differences between them.

The first bottle you probably notice in one of our tastings is the lighter colored Burgundy style bottle that our Chardonnays and Viognier are poured from.  This bottle has sloped shoulders and just a slight punt (or indent) on the bottom.  The punt helps to keep sediment from pouring out of the wine, but in these days of filtering built into the wine process, the indent is much less a necessary feature.  Because of the slightly sloping sides, this style of bottle does not stack as well.  A wine in this type of bottle is not likely to be one recommended to age as the lighter color lets in more light and speeds up the breakdown of tannins.

The second bottle you will notice is the clear, rounded shoulder bottle that houses our White Brix and, in past times, our very much missed Rosé.  Clear glass is always chosen to showcase the color of a wine and is never used for a wine that is meant to be kept in bottle for any significant amount of time.  The rounded shoulders are purely for aesthetic reasons.

The third bottle style, and the one that contains our Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and McGahey, is the Bourdeaux style that is deep in color, has a deep punt, and very defined shoulders.  All of these factors, before modern day processing came into being, were very important to maintaining the taste and quality of bottled wine.  The punt (sometimes called kick-up), as mentioned before, helps to keep sediment away from poured wine, and it is much deeper on these bottles as the full-bodied reds kept inside of them typically have more sediment than light or medium bodied wines.  The straight sides on these bottles make them perfect for storing on their sides, and the rounded shoulders aid in keeping sediment away from the cork.  The darker color found in Bourdeaux style bottles protects the wine from exposure to light.

The final piece of information that I am going to leave you with, before I get back to sniffing out which presents are really mine, is my mom’s favorite piece of trivia about why most wine bottles are 750mL.  Back in the 18th century, once people realized that wine keeps better in glass vessels than clay vessels, glass blowers started blowing bottles for that purpose.  Since glass blowers make bottles by blowing in one large breath, the size of the bottle is limited to the lung capacity of the blower – which just so happens to be about 750 mL.

Well, I just heard some more gifts placed under the tree, so I am going to go see if they have started putting my name on the boxes.  I really hope I got some more Kongs to chase and blankets to carry!  Merry Christmas to each one of you. If you haven’t already stopped by the tasting room to do your final Christmas shopping, we hope to see you this week!