As opposed to wine bottles themselves, the anatomy of a wine bottle holds no secret and is fairly straight forward.
Still, there is some specific vocabulary any wine lover, wine student, wannabe wine professional or sommelier has to know.
To keep things simple and easy to remember, with our friends at HisandHerwine we have beautifully designed a complete Infographic on the topic:
Glass wine bottles come in all shapes and sizes, but they generally have the following standard parts:
- Closure: this thing you may regard as an obstacle to you enjoying your favorite beverage, is actually very useful to prevent the wine from turning into vinegar before you taste it. It seals the wine with either screwcap or cork generally, although plastic closures also exist.
- Capsule: a metal wrapping around the closure at the top of the bottle. It protects the cork from drying up too much and the wine from evaporating too quickly. With screwcap, well it’s more about esthetic to preserve the overall balance of the packaging.
- Neck: the slender part of the bottle between the closure and the shoulder. The level of the wine should always be in the neck. If not, there’s a risk that the wine has leaked out of the bottle or evaporated through the cork during ageing.
- Shoulder: sloping part between the neck and the body. Some bottle shapes do not have clear shoulders like Burgundy or Alsace. The shoulder part is more prominent in Bordeaux bottles. For old cork-sealed wine, the wine level in the shoulder is used to assess the storage condition and therefore the value. Standard descriptors are: high-, mid- or low-shoulder level.
- Body: main part of the bottle, generally cylindrical but diameter can vary from top to bottom (larger at the top than the bottom, or vice versa).
- Label: where you should find information about the wine. Some of the information is controlled by law like volume of the liquid, ABV (alcohol content by volume), standard drinks, vintage, varietal, origin etc. Each wine-producing country has different regulations. Opposite the label may be a back-label where the producer is free to add more information.
- Punt: indentation on the underside of the bottle. It helps forming the bottle during the glass-molding process and also helps strengthening the structure (so it doesn’t always break when you drop a bottle, which is always the most horrible event!). Most sommeliers stick their thumb in the punt for pouring elegantly. A punt may not be present in all bottle types. Famously bottles of Roederer Cristal Champagne don’t have one because Tsar Alexander II of Russia who ordered the wine was afraid it may hide something lethal.
- Heel: base of the wine bottle.
There’s some useful info about wine bottles on Wikipedia here.
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