Wine bottles are built on centuries-old traditions. These traditions are fundamentally important to the wine trade. Any multinational wine company will not alter these cultural norms (Gallo, I’m talking to you). The wine bottle shape is the only thing the whole world agrees on.
Did you know that the shape and design of wine bottles can tell you more than just the art on the label? The color of the bottle can reveal a lot about the wine inside.
It could be superstition or respect for the past, but every winery insists that its bottles conform to certain basic rules. This is crucial because the same wineries aren’t afraid to admit that they have committed fraud.
Wine bottle shapes
Wine bottles are named after wine regions. There are four French wine regions and one German. Bottle shapes can quickly identify the wine style in a bottle.
This bottle has three primary red grapes: Syrah, Grenache and Pinot Noir. This bottle can also be used for a blend of Syrah and Grenache. This bottle style is not suitable for Pinot blends. Only a monster who eats happy small children would mix Pinot Noir. It’s one of the most controversial in the wine trade.
This type of bottle will only contain a handful of white wines. These include Chardonnay and Viognier, as well as Marsanne and Roussanne. Chardonnay is often bottled as one varietal. However, other wines are often mixed.
Winemakers use these bottles to make heavier white wines. They also serve as a vessel for barrel aging and lees stirring.
The Big Why
Burgundy, France is the name of Burgundy. Two varieties of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are produced in the region. Rhone Valley is another wine region that uses this bottle. These wines include Syrah, Grenache, Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne for reds and a dozen other varieties. Burgundy is a place where no one blends grapes. The Rhone is a place where almost everyone blends grapes.
Winemakers use this bottle shape to bottle wines other than the Rhone and Burgundy varieties.
This bottle is well-known for its Riesling. You may have heard this bottle called a “Hock” in Old English, an Old English term for German Riesling. This bottle can be used with any white wine made in Germany. That includes Gewurztraminer. Scheurebe and Pinot Blanc. This wine bottle is also used in France for wines from Alsace.
Except in Alsace, this bottle is mostly used for white wines. These bottles are perfect for Pinot Noir, even though they have fluted ends.
Germany Color Codes
Traditional Rhine Valley wines (Mittelrhein Rheingau, Nahe and Rheinhessen), are bottled in brown glass. Mosel bottles are usually green. Before the 1920s, Mosel wines used to be blue.
Bordeaux bottles are traditionally home to Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot and Cabernet Franc. This bottle will also contain wine grapes that are genetically related to Cabernet. This includes grapes like Malbec or Carmenere.
This bottle style is best for white grapes like Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. This bottle is the best for dry, crisp white wines. The wine will taste buttery and oaky so that the winery may offer them in a Burgundy-style bottle.
The Big Why
Bordeaux is a French wine region famous for its red blends Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. It is also well-known for its white wines, including blends of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillion.
This bottle has been the standard for dry red wines for many years. This bottle is often used to sell everything, from Zinfandel to Nebbiolo. This is the standard red wine bottle. Winemakers may choose to use a different bottle style; it is usually used as a statement piece.
Winemakers can also make a statement by using heavier Bordeaux-style bottles. It is a statement that heavier bottles are more expensive and, therefore, the wine will be more luxurious. However, heavier glasses can increase the price of wine and have become a marketing gimmick.
These bottles are only made for sparkling wine. The glass’s thickness and tapered shape are useful. They help prevent breakage.
In the 18th century, champagne bottles were notorious for shattering. Sparkling wines contain significant amounts of CO2; the pressure is much higher than in a car tire.
Champagne bottles of modern design are designed to hold that pressure. If you find a bottle that doesn’t look like a Champagne bottle, it most likely is only lightly carbonated.