Wine Bottles: basics, history, and beyond

Wine bottles have an incredible history and evolution. There are many types of bottles of all different shapes, sizes, and colors. Let's explore!

As with everything in the world of wine, bottles also have an incredible history and evolution. Currently, there are many different types of bottles of all different shapes, sizes, and colors.

Let’s explore!

A little bit of history

As always, let’s start from the beginning.

In the past, the wine was kept and carried in earthenware and clay amphora’s, like in Egyptian, Roman, and Greek old civilizations. Wooden barrels were adopted when Romans discovered that Gauls (ancient peoples who lived in what is now France, Belgium, western Switzerland and the areas of Holland and Germany) used them to store beer. Even animal guts from goats, sheeps, or pork, have been used a.k.a. Wine pelts.

It was in the XVII century that bottles were used to store, transport, and sell wines.

At that time, bottles were different from the ones currently known. They were more round and delicate because they were made by the blown glass technique.

Types of Wine Bottles according to their shape

Currently, there are different types of bottles, and their name is coming from the city where they are originally produced.

  • Bordelaise bottle: Her origin is Bordeaux, France, and it is the most used type of bottle.
  • Burgundy bottle: The oldest type of bottle. Generally, it is always green, even for white wines and its origin is also France.
  • Champagne bottle: This bottle is similar to the Burgundy, but with much thicker walls to resist the internal pressure of sparkling wines  
  • Rhin bottle: It originated in Germany and is commonly used for Riesling wines. In general it’s used in white producing regions 
  • Fortified wine bottle: In this case, this bottle is used for Sherry wines (Spain) and Porto wines (Portugal) It’s similar to bordelaise style, but with a somewhat shaped neck.
  • Jewel or special bottles: They are the wine bottles that have special shapes for unique or very limited edition wines.
Wine Bottles Shapes - Women's Wine Club

Parts of a Wine Bottle

As you can see all these bottles have different styles and shapes but they all share the same anatomy. Here are the standard parts:

  • Closure
  • Capsule
  • Neck
  • Shoulder
  • Body
  • Label
  • Punt
  • Hell
Parts of a Wine Bottle - Women's Wine Club

Wine Bottles Sizes and their names

Famous and most used size of a bottle has a capacity of 750ml and they are several theories for that:

  1. For the 1st century Romans, the daily ration of wine mixed with water consumed per person was 750 ml
  2. Bottle blowers in Europe could manufacture 700-800ml bottles from one blow.
  3. During medieval times in Europe, the English measure “gallon” was standardized and 750ml is the fifth of an English gallon.

It was then that the merchants realized that this measure was perfect for transport, storage in large quantities that were later transported in carts and for sale.

But it was not until 1821 when H. Ricketts & Co. Glass Works Bristol patented the method of making glass bottles mechanically and that is how the bottle of wine that we know today was born.

And in 1970, in an international treaty signed by the great world powers, that was the established measure.

However, different bottle sizes have been created:

  • Small bottle or Piccolo: It is a bottle whose volume is a quarter of a standard (187.5 ml)  
  • Half bottle: As its name suggests it is a wine bottle whose capacity is half of a standard (375 ml)
  • Standard bottle: It is the most common bottle, with a capacity of 750 ml.
  • Magnum bottle: It has a double volume of the standard bottle. (1 ½ L) 1500ml

There are many more sizes from there, of curious Biblical names such as: Jeroboam or Double Magnum (3 L.), Rehoboam (4.5 L.), Imperial or Mathusalem (6 L.), Salmanazar (9 L.), Balthazar (12 L.), Nabuchodonosor (15 L.), Solomon (20 L.), Souverain (26.25 L.), Primat (27 L.) and Melchizédec (30 L.)

And yes, the size of the bottle is very important for the evolution of the wines.

Wine Bottles Sizes - Women's Wine Club

Wine Bottles Colors

Another important factor in wine bottles is the color of the glass since its transparency or opacity will allow less or more protection from light and sun. In this way, translucent or clear glasses are usually used for young wines to be consumed in a year, such as white or young rosé, in addition, its color can be appreciated. On the contrary, dark glass bottles (green, black, blue, …) will make it possible to better preserve red wines, especially if they are aged.

Wine Bottles Colors - Women's Wine Club

I’m sure that from now on you will look at the bottles in a different way due to the great history they have and what influences the wine, right?

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