Have you ever noticed the variety of shapes and colours of wine bottles? Have you ever wondered whether there is any rhyme or reason for this? The differences in wine bottle shapes are purely regional variations that have more to do with glassblowing techniques than the flavours of the wine.
The Pinot Noir or Pinot Gris bottle shape differs from a Cabernet Sauvignon or Sauvignon Blanc bottle shape. Bottles are deliberately shaped a certain way in order that the region of origin may be identified. Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay are presented in a Burgundy shaped bottle with less pronounced shoulders that slope downward. On the other hand, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot are presented in a Bordeaux shaped bottle, which has distinct, high shoulders and a deep punt on the bottom of the bottle.
There’s no scientific reason why you couldn’t put Pinot Noir in a Bordeaux bottle, but vintners around the world still use the traditional wine bottle shapes for the region with which their wines are associated. For most, it’s simply a matter of tradition. But it also makes it easy for people to identify different types of wine by sight. Bottles are colored differently for the same reason.
While there are innumerable varieties of wine available in the market, the bottles themselves generally fall into a few specific shapes. There are 12 basic shapes of wine bottles.
It’s the most common shape of bottle and as the name indicates, it originated in Bordeaux. It has straight sides and distinct shoulders. The bottle is generally dark green or brown for red wines and light green or transparent for white wines. There is a good reason for the colour difference. The coloured glass protects red wines from the sun’s rays, and a transparent bottle improves the colour of white wines.
This type of bottle is used for a variety of grapes, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Semillon and Sauternes.
The burgundy bottle was introduced in Burgundy around the 19th century, before the Bordeaux bottle. This bottle has sloping shoulders and the colour of the glass is green. The grape varietals stored in a burgundy shaped bottle include Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah, Nebbiolo and Pinot Gris.
This bottle originated from Langhe, Piedmont, Italy. It was first used near the beginning of the 18th century. It looks similar to the Burgundy bottle and is used for the great red wines of Piedmont, such as Barolo and Barbaresco.
Côtes de Provence
The shape of the bottle is a mix between a Greek amphora vessel and a bowling pin. It’s the typical bottle for the wines of Côtes de Provence, which includes a variety of rosés and reds. In Italy, it’s used for Verdicchio wine.
The glass for this type of bottle is typically transparent or light green in the case of Verdicchio wines.
Alsace bottles are taller and thinner in shape compared to the other bottles. They have gently sloping shoulders. The colour is green for German wines and brown for French. The main grape contained in this type of bottle is Riesling.
Champagne bottles are unique because they need to withstand up to 90 psi of pressure of the sparkling wines contained within them. It’s also heavier and thicker, with a hollow bottom. The shape looks similar to the Burgundy bottle. The colour is usually varying shades of green, ranging from light to dark.
This shape is used for Hungarian Tokaji and it has a capacity of 0.5 litres. The glass is transparent.
A Port bottle is typically used for Port, Madeira and Sherry wines. The bottle has a bulb in the neck, which is intended to trap excess sediment during the pouring. The colour of the glass can be varying shades of green or brown.
A Marsala bottle looks similar to the Port bottle but it is higher and thinner. It’s used for Marsala wine. The glass is typically dark brown or black in colour.
This bottle is short, stocky and heavily built. It’s the only bottle authorized for Vin Jaune. Its capacity is 0.62litre. Vin Jaune (French for “yellow wine”) is a special and characteristic type of white wine made in the Jura region of France. It is similar to dry fino Sherry.
Bocksbeutel is completely different from the other wine bottle shapes; it is a flattened ellipsoid. The glass is a dark green colour. It’s used for the red wines of Germany’s Franconia region, some Portuguese wines, and Italy’s Orvieto wines. This particular shape is protected under the European Union.
This is the old bottle of Chianti wine which is no longer in use. The bottle gave a rustic aspect to the wine. It was round, so it required a basket to allow it to stand upright on the table. The capacity was about 2 litres. Once empty these bottles were often used as candlesticks.