Most wines you find on the shop shelves will be packaged into five standard shapes. They are named after the wine regions where they were originally developed and used to store the flagship wine of these regions.
Knowing the basic shapes can be a useful clue to identifying the style of wine before even reading the label.
Also known as a Germanic bottle, this bottle is taller and thinner than other types, with gently sloping shoulders. The main grape contained in Alsace bottles is Riesling. Bottles holding French Riesling are often brown, while the ones used for German Riesling are more often green.
This is probably the most common bottle you will come across. The body of a Bordeaux bottle has a cylindric shape, with straight sides and high shoulders (the link between the body of a bottle and a bottleneck). The most popular style of wine in Bordeaux are Cabernet Sauvignon/ Merlot blends, but you will find most wines sold in this type of bottle.
The Burgundy bottle is most often used for Chardonnay and quite often Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. It has a longer neck than the Bordeaux bottle and distinctive sloping shoulders, making it resemble a cone.
The bottles for Champagne and other sparkling wines like Cava or Prosecco might resemble a Burgundy bottle, but are heavier and thicker. This is because they have to resist the high pressure resulting from the production of sparkling wines.
The main bottle in which you will find Port, Sherry, Madeira and other fortified wines. This resembles a Bordeaux bottle, but with a key difference. The neck of a Port bottle has a bulb to trap excess sediment during pouring.
The shape somewhat resembles a bowling pin, an hourglass or even a corset. As the name suggests, this bottle comes from Côtes de Provence, the famous rosé-producing region. With the current trend for rosé wines, you’re very likely to spot this shape of bottle when shopping for wine.
Why do wine bottles have a concave bottom?
You may have wondered about the purpose of the indentation at the bottom of a wine bottle. This depression is known as a punt or a kick-up. Punts don’t contribute to the quality of wine but they often come in handy during wine production and service.
Punts for Champagne and sparkling wines are deeper because they strengthen the glass that needs to withstand high pressure. A deep punt also makes it easier for a bottle to be lifted by suction during sparkling winemaking. With a deep punt, you can also support the bottle more easily with your thumb when pouring.
A punt adds to the cost of a bottle. It is cheaper to produce a bottle without the punt, as it requires less glass. However, a punt is no indicator of the quality of the wine, but rather the winemaker's visual preference.