"My Grandmother is over 80 and still doesn't need glasses. Drinks right out of the bottle." Henny Youngman
Next time you are browsing down the wine isle, take a closer look at the bottle shapes. The shape of a wine bottle can communicate a great deal about the taste of the wine inside. In Europe, many wine producing areas developed unique bottle shapes that became the traditional bottle for wines of that region. As winemaking spread around the world, new wineries often adopted those traditional European bottle shapes in order to communicate with their consumers.
The high shouldered 'Bordeaux Bottle' is used by most wineries for Cabernet Sauvignon , Merlot, Malbec and most Meritage or Bordeaux blends. This is because those are the key grape varieties that are allowed for use in red wines from the Bordeaux region.
The Bordeaux bottle is also generally used for Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. These are the primary grape varieties allowed in the production of white wines in Bordeaux.
The slope shouldered 'Burgundy Bottle' is generally used for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir around the world. These are the two key grape varieties used in the Burgundy region of France for white and red wine production.
This shape is also used for many Loire Valley wines.
The tall Alsace (northeastern France) bottle or the 'Hoch Bottle' is also used in Germany (green in the Mosel and brown in the Rhine.) It is used by wineries in many parts of the world for several grape varieties including Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Muller-Thurgau.
Classic Champagne bottle
About the bottle sizes It might come as a surprise to the average wine consumer that there is not an actual standard wine bottle size. But there is not.
Most German wine bottles are 0.70 liters. Some bottles from Alsace are 0.72 liters.
Before 1945 French wine bottles held 0.80 liters, and it is still a common measure for Burgundy, Champagne and Rhone . The measure used for Bordeaux and most Californian wines is .075.
To be absolutely sure, look underneath the bottle, it usually states the size on the bottom.
There are also much bigger sizes, usually these are more decorative or show bottles, but they do contain the same quality wine as a smaller size of the same product.
This table is a quick reference guide to the names of larger than usual bottles:
Contents in # of bottles-liters
Possible explanation of the name
Filette - demi
Tregnum or tappit-hen
Large bottle, large bowl, English slang as per 1950 unabridged Webster dictionary
A very large bowl, bottle container, as per 1950 unabridged Webster dictionary
The bigger the bottle the longer quality wine or champagne will be be able to age, in the biggest Champagne bottle one assumed wine could reach Methusaleh ages
approx. 12 bottles
From Salma, a measure of capacity used in Italy and Sicily, as per 1950 unabridged Webster dictionary
approx. 16 bottles
King standing for king-size
approx. 20 bottles
King of Babylon standing for biggest king-size ever made
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