Test your Knowledge - Wine Quiz Bottle Shapes

Wine Quiz Bottle Shapes - The History of the Bottle

The History of Wine Bottle Shapes

1. Bordeaux Bottle

  • Origin: Bordeaux, France
  • Shape: Straight-sided and high-shouldered
  • Historical Significance: This design emerged in the 19th century. Its broad base and straight sides made it easier to stack and store. The pronounced shoulders were designed to trap sediment as the wine was decanted.
  • Commonly Used For: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec

2. Burgundy Bottle

  • Origin: Burgundy, France
  • Shape: Sloping shoulders and a wider base
  • Historical Significance: Dating back to the 19th century, this shape is believed to have been influenced by the monks in Burgundy. The gentle slope of the shoulders was less effective at catching sediment but provided an elegant profile.
  • Commonly Used For: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay

3. Alsace/Mosel Bottle

  • Origin: Alsace region, France, and Mosel, Germany
  • Shape: Tall, slender with gently sloping shoulders
  • Historical Significance: This shape is traditionally associated with German and Alsatian wines. The design made the bottles easy to store in tight spaces and also distinguished these region’s wines from others.
  • Commonly Used For: Riesling, Gewürztraminer

4. Champagne Bottle

  • Origin: Champagne, France
  • Shape: Thick-walled with a deep punt and gently sloping shoulders
  • Historical Significance: The shape is designed to withstand the pressure of the carbonated contents. The deep punt (indentation at the bottom) helps in distributing the pressure evenly throughout the bottle.
  • Commonly Used For: Champagne, Sparkling Wines

5. Port Bottle

  • Origin: Portugal
  • Shape: Similar to the Bordeaux bottle but often with a bulb in the neck
  • Historical Significance: The bulb in the neck helps in catching the sediment common in vintage port wines during pouring.

Why Different Shapes?

The diversity in wine bottle shapes is not merely aesthetic. Here are some reasons why different shapes have


  1. Practicality in Storage and Handling: The shape of the bottle can influence how easily it can be stored and handled. For example, Bordeaux bottles with their straight sides are easier to stack and store, making them practical for both winemakers and consumers.

  2. Region and Tradition: Many bottle shapes are closely tied to the region where the wine is produced. These traditional shapes are often a matter of cultural heritage, reflecting the history and identity of the wine region.

  3. Wine Type and Characteristics: Certain shapes are better suited for particular types of wine. For instance, the sloping shoulders of the Burgundy bottle are less effective at trapping sediment, making them more suitable for wines that are less likely to produce sediment.

  4. Sediment Control: The shape of the bottle can influence how sediment is managed. Bordeaux bottles have high shoulders which help trap sediment during decanting, a feature important for wines that are aged and likely to produce sediment.

  5. Marketing and Branding: Bottle shapes can be a powerful marketing tool. A distinctive bottle shape can make a wine stand out on the shelf and can become part of a brand’s identity.

  6. Evolution of Wine Making and Consumption: As wine making and consumption practices have evolved, so too have bottle shapes. Innovations in bottling, storage, and transportation have all influenced bottle design.


The variety of wine bottle shapes is a testament to the rich history and diverse practices in the world of winemaking. From practical considerations to regional traditions, each shape tells a story of its own, adding depth and character to the experience of enjoying a bottle of wine. Whether it’s a robust Bordeaux or a delicate Riesling, the bottle is more than just a container; it’s a symbol of the wine’s heritage and the craftsmanship behind it.


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