"Getting Into Shape"
Images credit - pennsylvaniawine.com
Since wine bottles can be made in many shapes and styles, it is essential to note that the design doesn’t make a difference in terms of the wine’s flavor. That being the case, the bottle shape is sometimes more informative than even the wine label and, more often than not, represents a deeply rooted history, reflecting the wine’s place of origin or geographic region.
Over the years, hundreds of different bottle shapes have existed and evolved. However, style, practicality, and tradition influence the modern-day winemaker’s ultimate choice to use one of these qualifying top 4 options:
THE BORDEAUX BOTTLE
The red Bordeaux varieties, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, are undeniably the two most famous red wine grapes on the planet. This Bordeaux bottle shape was an instant hit in this region when first created, as it set the region’s wines apart from its compatriots and has since then become the most widely used bottle shape utilized among wineries across the globe. What makes the Bordeaux bottle attractive is its distinctive shoulders, which is believed to have been created to catch the sediment that tends to show up in older Bordeaux wines. Collectors, Somm’s and Shop managers alike, love purchasing wines in Bordeaux bottles since they are sturdy and travel/store well due to their boxy lines and ability to lay horizontal and stack more easily than other shapes.
THE BURGUNDY BOTTLE
The Burgundy bottle’s curved sides exist because this design was initially more straightforward for glassmakers to create. Following the bottle’s creation, many Burgundy producers of the first Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs started using this specific bottle to store their wines. After a couple of decades, the Burgundy bottle was recognized as the premier bottle and was selected for housing the region’s finest offerings. In the years that followed, the two popular Burgundy varietals and their bottles earned notoriety as travel across the world became more prevalent. Today, red wines with similar flavor characteristics to Pinot Noir, like Gamay and Nebbiolo, can also be found in this glass bottle shape. A key characteristic of a white wine found inside a Burgundy bottle, it that the wine may likely have been aged or fermented in oak.
THE ALSACE/MOSEL BOTTLE
The Alsace/Mosel bottle was created for storing dry and sweet Riesling, but the bottle is known to be synonyms with similar grape varietals such as Gewurztraminer and Schurebe. These Alsace bottles are more extended, leaner, and more delicate than their counterparts. The Alsace wine bottles were designed to be more slender in stature due to their transportation route. The region’s wines went to market on small ships navigating the Rhine River requiring the bottles to be sleeker to fit as many as possible on board. And given the gentler river ride the Alsace bottles would undergo, they could be made more delicate, where Burgundy and Bordeaux’s wine bottles found themselves wading on choppy high seas sailing to their final destinations.
Champagne and other sparkling wines are packed into bottles shaped reminiscently of the Burgundy bottle but show more sloping shoulder lines and boast an even broader base. The significant difference between the two is the Champagne bottle’s hefty weight and extra thickness. The Champagne bottle’s important durable, heavy-duty structure provides more protection and stability for the pressurized wine and prevents the glass from exploding on the shelf. Many sparkling wines are produced in the classic Champagne Method, where a 2nd fermentation happens inside the bottle and creates the pressure that makes the bubbles we’re all so fond of, and require this robust bottle shape to make this magic happen safely.
Regardless of the bottle shape, specific varietal, or region your favorites come in, what’s for sure is that the wine will inevitably end up in your glass, and as it crosses your palate, it’ll be undoubtedly delicious...Cheers!