Understand wine bottle dimensions in 5 minutes
Who’s up for brushing up on their general knowledge? When it comes to wine, the bottle and its size can tell you a lot about what’s inside. Being armed with a bit of insight into bottle types and sizes can not only impress your mates, but also help you pick a bottle off the store shelf.
Wine drinkers under 40 are adventurous, knowledgeable, and value quality over quantity. Although they buy less, if you can engage them, they are ready to spend more on premium and super-premium wine. They also seek out natural, sustainably-produced beverages.
A majority of buyers already see glass wine bottles as a sustainable packaging solution.
So, let’s take a look at our guide to the world of wine bottles and top up on some trivia.
A standard bottle of wine holds about five glasses of wine. But, did you know that there are seventeen sizes of wine bottles out there? They range from the quarter bottle Split or Piccolo, which holds just over one glass or 187ml, ) to the whopping great 18L Melchizedek, also known as a Midas, which holds 200 glasses o r40 standard bottles. If you’re wondering why the names Melchizedek and Midas seem strangely familiar, here’s a fact to add to your impressive general knowledge: wine bottle formats over three liters are named after biblical figures. There’s no rhyme or reason to the order in which they were named, and no one really knows how the names really came about. But, it definitely makes ordering one a bit more special. I, for one, would rather ask for “a Balthasar please” than “a twelve liter please”.
Here’s a graphic to help you get to grips with the different wine bottle dimensions:
The indentation found on the bottom of a wine bottle is known as a punt, and it’s quite useful.
The punt can range in depth from nearly flat on Rhine bottles to quite deep on sparkling wines. The original purpose of the punt is unknown, but it has come to serve many purposes.
A punt makes it easier for the server to pour the wine, pressing their thumb into the dent. Something you’ll experience in nearly every restaurant or wine bar of note. Pouring from a grip around the bottle is classed as ‘uncouth’ and something best left to your dinner table at home.
It can also keep the bottle sitting flat on a table. In bottles of red wine, the punt helps to trap sediment before it pours out into the glass.
The indentation on the bottom of a sparkling wine bottle is quite deep. This is to strengthen the bottle so it can withstand the high pressure of the wine production process and the second fermentation that takes place in the bottle.
Interestingly, a punt adds to the cost of a bottle, since it uses more glasses to include it in the design.
Let’s take a closer look at wine bottle anatomy.
There’s a variety of sizes and shapes, but wine bottles share many features in common.
At the very top, you’ll find the closure which keeps wine bottles sealed shut. It can be made of natural or plastic cork, synthetic rubber, or metal.
Most bottles have a cover over their closure called a capsule or foil. The capsule can be made of tin, plastic, aluminum, or even sealing wax.
Moving down from the capsule and closure, we have the neck of the bottle. The neck can be long or short depending on the style, but in standard wine bottle dimensions, it usually has an inside diameter of 18.5 mm to 21 mm.
The shoulder starts where the bottle slopes outwards after the neck. Shoulders can be high, mid, or low, and gently or sharply sloping.
The body is the central part of the bottle. It is usually cylindrical, but differences in wine bottle dimensions can lead to various shapes.
Labels are stuck on the front and rear of the body to show essential information such as brand, alcohol content, vintage, origin, and volume.
Around the edge of the punt is the heel, which is basically the bottom rim the bottle rests on when standing upright.
Although it’s becoming more fashionable now for wineries and champagne houses to create bespoke bottles to help distinguish their brand, the shape of most wine bottles is pretty standard across the world. Unlike the size of the bottle, the name given to the shape is less mysterious. They are derived from the wine region where they were originally created, and their different shapes are down to variations in local glassmaking traditions. New World wine producers often choose specific bottle shapes that link their wines to similar Old World styles in their customers’ minds.
Read on for a brief round up of the most common types of wine bottle.
This is a tall and thin bottle with gentle sloping shoulders. It’s also called a Mosel, the Flûte d’Alsace or a Germanic bottle. It’s used for wine from Riesling and Muller Thurgau grapes in the Alsace region in France and Mosel in Germany. You can tell if it’s a French Riesling because the bottle will usually be brown. If it’s a German wine, it’s typically green.
A flattened bottle with a short neck and a pot belly from Franconia in Germany. In the EU, it’s a protected bottle shape. Sometimes used for Italian, Greek, and Portuguese wines too.
Also called a Bordelaise or Frontignan, this is probably the most common wine bottle shape in the world. It’s tall and straight with high shoulders and a deep punt. Dark green glass tells you it’s a red wine and light green glass means white wine. This style is used for wine from grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon, Chenin Blanc, Malbec, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc.
A Burgundy or Bourguignonne bottle comes from Bourgogne where Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Chablis are produced. Compared to a Bordeaux, it has a wide, slightly flared body, and gently sloping shoulders and long neck. It comes in brown or green colored glass. Aligotes, Côte de Beaunes, and Sauvignon Blancs also come in this style of bottle.
Sparkling wines like Champagne, Cava, or Prosecco are sold in bottles that resemble Burgundies, but with a deep punt. The sturdier wine bottle dimensions and thicker glass help contain the higher pressures from the gas.
The Clavelin is the bottle shape can only be used for Vin Jaune from the Jura region in eastern France. The short and stout bottle holds only 620ml of wine rather than the usual 750ml.
A unique style of Italian bottle, traditionally used for Chianti. It’s fat and round and sits in a protective straw basket. Here’s a bit of trivia: it was first mentioned in a book written in the 14th Century.
The Loire Valley or Ligérienne bottle looks like a thinner Burgundy bottle. It features a royal shield embossed on its shoulders, and it’s used for Chinon, Bourgueil, or Montlouis wines from this region.
This black glass bottle for port, vermouth, Madeira, and other fortified wines is similar in shape to Bordeaux bottles, but sometimes it has a slight bulb at the neck to keep sediment from flowing into the glass. It has a deep punt.
While there are various Provence wine bottle dimensions, you can easily identify the Flûte à corset because of its corset-like hourglass shape. It’s also called a Flute Provençal, or Flute Quille.
The Côte de Provence also has something of a corset shape, but is straighter and thinner at the bottom.
Provence bottles are often made from clear glass to show off the rosé or red color of the wine inside.
This German bottle is tall, and slim, with a long neck, and a shallow punt. It’s typically dark brown and used for Riesling, Muller-Thurgau, and Bacchus wines.
This French bottle shape is like a shorter, stockier version of a Burgundy bottle. It is often embossed with a coat of arms on the shoulder.
Taking a moment to memorize the six most common types can help you guess the contents of the bottle before even reading the label. Here are a few of the classic shapes you’ll find on the shelves:
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