Most often, they contain 75cl, they can make more, make less. They are high, short, they have shoulders, flat bottoms or prickles. They can sometimes be decorated with coats of arms, engravings. They are all different, but their primary function is to preserve the elixir, the wine, red, white or rosé. The bottles!
These worthy heiresses of amphoras, jugs, leather and pewter gourds are now produced by the millions every year. Moreover, even though the Romans invented the blown glass, this one being at the beginning very rare and expensive, we owe the democratization of the glass bottle to our neighbours the British and their coal ovens (their thirst for wine also being for something to do with it). Indeed, the English not being winemakers, they received the wine in large barrels, which did not facilitate neither the conservation of the product, nor its transport. It is thus from a practical point of view that the marketing of bottling overseas was born in the 18th century. The first French people to take advantage of it were, unsurprisingly, the people of Champagne, who quickly understood that they would also have to tint the glass to fight against ultraviolet rays, the first enemies of bottled Champagne.
Very quickly, the glass bottle spreads everywhere, and very quickly, each region, each appellation adopts its particular shapes, with more or less reasons. Some bottles are even subject to rigid regulations present in the specifications of certain appellations. However, they all have points in common: they all have a ring, a neck, a barrel and a bottom, often accompanied by a puncture (a hollow at the bottom of the bottle). These common bases are of course variable from one bottle to another. Let's analyse the different shapes of our French bottles.
Only the last two bottles mentioned are part of the measures to be respected in the specifications of the appellations concerned to bear their names. As for the other shapes, Bordeaux, Burgundy, etc., they are not subject to any regulation! Winegrowers therefore have the choice to put their wines in any shape of bottle. And yet, we could believe the opposite, because, for the sake of tradition or recognition, it is indeed these traditional forms that we find most often.
This is why, accompanying a breath of renewal - or certainly of marketing - many houses have chosen to play with these old codes. Some of them have created completely original bottle shapes, as with the Infiltrado cuvée from the Hacienda del Carche (Spain), whose slanting shoulder would make it easier to operate on the bottle.The bottle of Miraval en Provence, small and very large, reminiscent of the Ruinart Champagne bottle, whose reputation is well established. These generous and sometimes unique shapes raise the price of the bottles and boost sales, but are unfortunately not designed for storage in wine cellars. Others, for example, play the disorientation card by cleverly putting Bordeaux wines in Burgundy bottles, as is the case with the Le Blanc Bonhomme cuvée from Château Pey-Bonhomme-Les-Tours in Blaye, whose tasting does not leave one indifferent.
Finally, it is nevertheless good to note that one should not be satisfied to choose one's wine according to the shape of the bottle, the habit does not make the monk, the most important remains the content. As for the container, it often remains attached to old traditions that allow us to recognize the a priori origin of the wine, which has, of course, nothing to do with its quality.
Mélany Bachmann (cellarman) for Les Grappes