Next time you are browsing down the wine isle at your local supplier, take a closer look at the shapes of the bottles. Bottle shapes are all about tradition and many wine producing areas in Europe have developed unique shapes that are still being used for wines that originated in those regions. Let’s take a look at the 5 most common shapes:
A – This is the “Bordeaux” style bottle and is usually dark green for dry red wine and lighter green for white wines. Sweeter wines will mostly be in a clear bottle to show off its colour. This bottle is known for its straight sides and tall shoulders and is by far the most frequently used shape. Wines associated with this shape bottle include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc and Semillon.
B – The “Burgundy” bottle is slightly fatter with gently sloping shoulders and is generally used for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (sometimes even Shiraz). This bottle suits both red and white wine alike and has a dark green colour.
C – I am sure you will recognize this one as the “Champagne” bottle. This type of bottle also has sloping shoulders, but much thicker glass and a pronounced punt (the dent at the bottom of the bottle). All these features make this bottle much stronger than the rest, as it is designed to withstand a pressure of up to 3 times that of the inside of a normal bottle of wine. The Champagne bottle is used for all sparkling wines.
D – Commonly used for Riesling and Gewürztraminer, the “Alsace” or “Hoch” bottle is slightly more slender than normal bottles and ranges from green to brown in colour (with mostly green being used in South Africa). The wine in these bottles can range from dry, to off-dry, to sweet.
E – It’s the bottle used for fortified wines. Most fortified wines (such as Port, Sherry and Muscadel) are packaged in these sturdy bottles, but sometimes with a shorter, fatter body. Quite often you will find that these bottles have a bulge in their neck – this is supposedly to catch any sediment when the wine is being decanted. Many of these bottles will be sealed with a cork stopper and not the normal long cork.
So next time you are doing a blind tasting, you might be able to narrow the wines down just by looking at the shape of the bottle!
Source: SA Wine Advocate