The shape of wine |

The shape of wine

Stock photo/Sierra Sun

A little bottle knowledge can give you a bit of a clue as to what the contents might be, even without reading the label. Wine come in all shapes of bottles, and the particular shape of the bottle will indicate the wine type.Bordeaux: Straight sides and tall shoulders, with dark green glass for the dry red wines of the region, lighter green for the dry whites and, for the sweet whites, clear glass. This bottle shape is widely used in the New World by winemakers bottling Bordeaux varieties, but it is also widely used in Italy and many other countries.Burgundy: Here gently sloping shoulders suggests a wine from Burgundy, with both red and white wines in similar green glass. These are sturdy, heavy bottles with a slightly fatter girth than other wine bottles although you may only notice this if stacking them. This shape is also widely used throughout the New World for chardonnay and pinot noir.Rhone: Similar in style to the Burgundy, but not so fat. In addition, some may bear a coat of arms on the neck, particularly Chteauneuf du Pape. The traditional Ctes du Rhne bottle is similar in shape, but with more angular sloping shoulders. New World shiraz may have a similar bottle, but often this is not the case.Champagne: This bottle design is born out of necessity as much as style. Thick glass, gently sloping shoulders and a deep punt (the indentation on the underside) are necessary as the pressure inside the bottle is 80-90 pounds per square inch. Champagne bottles are used throughout the wine-making world for carbonated wines.Mosel and Alsace: A slender bottle, narrower than other styles, also much taller, with a very gentle slope to the shoulders. Green glass suggests either the Mosel in Germany, or Alsace in France. The wine contained may still be of a wide variety of styles, however, ranging from dry and off-dry, through to dessert wines.Rhine: Wine from the Rhine spends its life in a bottle similar in shape to the Mosel/ Alsace bottle. The main distinguishing feature is the glass, which is traditionally colored brown. However, as in all wine bottles; the shape and color used is whatever the winery prefers to use, and reading the label will let you know all you need to know about the wine in that bottle.Fortified wines: Many fortified wines, such as port, madeira and sherry, are transported in sturdy bottles. The vintage port bottle may have quite a bulge in the neck supposedly to help capture the sediment as the aged wine is decanted. Many of these wines, especially if for drinking young, would be sealed with a cork stopper rather than a long cork.

In early times the standard size glass bottle was determined by what the regions glass blower could achieve with a lung-full of air. Today, the 750 milliliters bottle is the most common wine bottle size. This standard bottle holds 25.36 ounces, which, depending on the size of your pour, adds up to four glasses of wine per bottle. Those ever-increasing in popularity half bottles are 375 milliliters. The most common large format bottle on the market is the magnum, which is exactly double a standard bottle, comes to 1.5 liters. There are a number of other large format bottles, which are great choices for large get-togethers. These large format bottles are great vessels for still wines to age properly in as well. Many large bottles are named after biblical kings. Most confusingly, however, the same name may be used to refer to different size bottles in different regions of France. Here are the large format bottlings commonly referred to:Marie- Jeanne, 2.25 liters, or 3 bottle capacity.Double magnum, or Je`roboam, 3 liters or 4 bottles.Jeroboam, or Rehoboam, 4.5 liters, or 6 bottles.Impe`riale, or Methuselah, 6 liters or 8 bottles.Salmanazar, 9 liters or 12 bottles.Balthazar, 16 bottles and the huge Nebuchadnezar which equals 20 bottles!

Wine will last longer in bottles made from colored glass which keeps ultraviolet light rays away from the wine. Green glass in the most common, but depending on the wine type, country of origin, or the wine-makers whim. Brown, blue-green, blue, or even clear bottles wrapped in colored plastic may be used. Traditionally, wines like ros not meant to age in the bottle are presented in clear glass to better enjoy the vivid ros color.There are really no rules for the type of bottle or the color of the glass. This is true particularly when considering the wines of non-classic regions or the New World. Although winemakers may bottle in styles similar to the region that gives them inspiration, there is no requirement to do so.Whichever shape or color bottle you pour your wine from this New Years Eve, dont drink and drive. Cheers. Janice Jones is a Truckee resident and wine consultant. Reach her at

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