Wine bottle

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A bottle showing the transparent green of many wine bottles
A square wine bottle.

A wine bottle is a bottle used for holding wine, generally made of glass. Some wines are fermented in the bottle, others are bottled only after fermentation.

Recently, the bottle has become a standard unit of volume to describe sales in the wine industry, measuring 750 millilitres (26 imp fl oz; 25 US fl oz).[citation needed] However, bottles are produced in a variety of volumes and shapes.

Wine bottles are traditionally sealed with cork, but screw-top caps are becoming popular, and there are several other methods used to seal a bottle.[1][2][3]


Many traditional wine bottle sizes are named for Biblical kings and historical figures. The chart below[4] lists the sizes of various wine bottles in multiples relating to a standard bottle of wine, which is 0.75 litres (0.20 US gal; 0.16 imp gal) (five 150 mL servings). The "wineglassful"—an official unit of the apothecaries' system of weights—is much smaller at 2.5 imp fl oz (71 ml).

Most champagne houses are unable to carry out secondary fermentation in bottles larger than a magnum due to the difficulty in riddling large, heavy bottles. After the secondary fermentation completes, the champagne must be transferred from the magnums into larger bottles, which results in a loss of pressure. Some believe this re-bottling exposes the champagne to greater oxidation and therefore results in an inferior product compared to champagne which remains in the bottle in which it was fermented.[5]

Volume (litres)RatioNameNotesChampagneBordeauxBurgundy
0.18750.25Piccolo"Small" in Italian. Also known as a quarter bottle, pony, snipe or split.Yes
0.250.33ChopineTraditional French unit of volumeYes
0.3750.5Demi"Half" in French. Also known as a half bottle.YesYesYes
0.3780.505TenthOne tenth of a US gallon*
[citation needed]
Also known as a 50 cl bottle. Used for Tokaj, Sauternes, Jerez, as well as several other types of sweet wines.
0.6200.83ClavelinPrimarily used for vin jaune.
0.7571.01FifthOne-fifth of a US gallon*
1.01.33LitrePopular size for Austrian wines.
2.253Marie JeanneAlso known as a Tregnum or Tappit Hen in the port wine trade.Yes
3.04Jeroboam (a.k.a. Double Magnum)Biblical, First king of Northern Kingdom. "Jeroboam" has different meanings (that is, indicates different sizes) for different regions in France.[6]YesYesYes
4.56RehoboamBiblical, First king of separate JudeaYesYes
6.08MethuselahBiblical, Oldest ManYesYes
9.012SalmanazarBiblical, Assyrian KingYesYesYes
12.016BalthazarOne of three Wise Men (according to legend) to present gifts at Jesus' nativityYesYesYes
15.020Nebuchadnezzar[7]Biblical, King of BabylonYesYesYes
18.024MelchiorOne of three Wise Men (according to legend) to present gifts at Jesus' nativityYesYesYes
20.026.66SolomonBiblical, King of Israel, Son of DavidYes
27.036Primat or GoliathBiblical, stoned by DavidYes
30.040Melchizedek or MidasBiblical, King of SalemYes

* For many years, the US standard (non-metric) wine and liquor bottle was the "fifth", meaning one-fifth of a US gallon, or 25.6 US fluid ounces (757 ml; 26.6 imp fl oz). Some beverages also came in tenth-gallon, half-gallon and one-gallon sizes. In 1979, the US adopted the metric system for wine bottles, with the basic bottle becoming 750 ml, as in Europe.[citation needed]


Side-by-side comparison of various sizes of champagne bottles (left to right), on the ladder: magnum, full, half, and quarter; on the floor: Balthazar, Salmanazar, Methuselah, and Jeroboam.
Bocksbeutel shaped wine bottle
Burgundy bottles

Wine producers in Portugal, Italy, Spain, France and Germany follow the tradition of their local areas in choosing the shape of bottle most appropriate for their wine.

Many North and South American, South African, and Australasian wine producers select the bottle shape with which they wish to associate their wines. For instance, a producer who believes his wine is similar to Burgundy may choose to bottle his wine in Burgundy-style bottles.

Other producers (both in and out of Europe) have chosen idiosyncratic bottle styles for marketing purposes. Pere-Anselme markets its Châteauneuf-du-Pape in bottles that appear half-melted. The Moselland company of Germany has a riesling with a bottle in the shape of a house cat.

The home wine maker may use any bottle, as the shape of the bottle does not affect the taste of the finished product. The sole exception is in producing sparkling wine, where thicker-walled bottles should be used to handle the excess pressure.

Most wine bottles standards have a bore (inner neck) diameter of 18.5 at the mouth of the bottle and increase to 21 mm before expanding into the full bottle.


The traditional colours used for wine bottles are:

Clear colourless bottles have recently become popular with white wine producers in many countries, including Greece, Canada and New Zealand. Dark-coloured bottles are most commonly used for red wines, but many white wines also still come in dark green bottles. The main reason for using coloured or tinted glass is that natural sunlight can break down desirable antioxidants such as vitamin c and tannins in a wine over time, which affects storability and can cause a wine to prematurely oxidise. Dark glass can prevent oxidation and increase storage life. It is therefore mostly ready-to-drink white wines with a short anticipated storage lifespan which are bottled in clear colourless bottles.


A paper strip beneath the foil

Commercial corked wine bottles typically have a protective sleeve called a foil (commonly referred to as a "capsule") covering the top of the bottle, the purpose of which is to protect the cork from being gnawed away by rodents or infested with the cork weevil and to serve as collar to catch small drips when pouring. The foil also serves as a decorative element of the bottle's label. Foils were historically made of lead; however, because of research showing that trace amounts of toxic lead could remain on the lip of the bottle and mix with the poured wine,[8] lead foil bottleneck wrapping were slowly phased out, and by the 1990s,[9] most foils were made of tin, heat-shrink plastic (polyethylene or PVC), or aluminium or polylaminate aluminium. Sealing wax is sometimes used, or the foil can be omitted entirely.[10] In the US, the FDA officially banned lead foils on domestic and imported wine bottles as of 1996.[11]

Some bottles of wine have a paper strip beneath the foil, as a seal of authenticity, which must be broken before the bottle can be uncorked.


An empty (Bordeaux-style) wine bottle with a punt at its base.

A punt, also known as a kick-up, refers to the dimple at the bottom of a wine bottle. There is no consensus explanation for its purpose. The more commonly cited explanations include:[1]

Environmental impact[edit]

Glass retains its colour on recycling, and the United Kingdom has a large surplus of green glass because it imports a large quantity of wine but produces very little. 1.4 million tonnes are sent to landfill annually.[14]

Glass is a relatively heavy packing material and wine bottles use quite thick glass, so the tare weight of a full wine bottle is a relatively high proportion of its gross weight. The average weight of an empty 750 ml wine bottle is 500 g (and can range from 300 to 900 g), which makes the glass 40% of the total weight of the full bottle.[15] This has led to suggestions that wine should be exported in bulk from producer regions and bottled close to the market. This would reduce the cost of transportation and its carbon footprint, and provide a local market for recycled green glass.[16][17] Less radically, box wine is sold in large-size light cardboard and foil containers, though its use has been restricted to cheaper products in the past and as such retains a stigma. Following declining sales of wine boxes in the UK, in 2009 the Office for National Statistics removed them from its Consumer Price Index measure of inflation.[18] Some wine producers are exploring more alternative packagings such as plastic bottles and tetra packs.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Johnson, Hugh (2004). The Story of Wine. Sterling Publishing. ISBN 1-84000-972-1. 
  2. ^ Jackson, Ron (1997). Conserve Water, Drink Wine: Recollections of a Vinous Voyage of Discovery. Haworth Press. ISBN 1-56022-864-4. 
  3. ^ MacNeil, Karen (2001). The Wine Bible. Workman. ISBN 1-56305-434-5. 
  4. ^ Wine 101 ::[dead link]
  5. ^ "Champagne Bottle Sizes". Retrieved 11 April 2014. [self-published source]
  6. ^ "Jeroboam Wine Facts". Retrieved 26 December 2008. [self-published source]
  7. ^ Manser, Martin H.; Pickering, David H., eds. (2003). The Facts On File dictionary of classical and biblical allusions. New York, NY: Checkmark Books. p. 257. ISBN 9780816048687. 
  8. ^ Fisher, Lawrence M. (2 August 1991). "Lead Levels in Many Wines Exceed U.S. Standards for Water". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 January 2010. 
  9. ^ [1][dead link]
  10. ^ "30 Second Wine Advisor". Retrieved 2 January 2010. [self-published source]
  11. ^ "Justia :: 21 C.F.R. § 189.301 Tin-coated lead foils for wine bottles". 8 February 1996. Retrieved 2 January 2010. 
  12. ^ (MacNeil 2001)
  13. ^ a b "Punt Wine Bottle Indentation". Retrieved 2 January 2010. [self-published source]
  14. ^ Hickman, Leo (9 May 2006). "Is it OK ... to drink wine?". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 November 2007. 
  15. ^ "The WRAP Wine Initiative". Retrieved 14 September 2011. 
  16. ^ Lamb, Garth. "Carbon copy". Waste Management & Environment. Retrieved 22 November 2007. "If wine was imported in bulk vats and then bottled locally, the market for the most beneficial recycling option would increase." 
  17. ^ "New Wine Bottle Project" (Press release). British Glass. 15 September 2006. Retrieved 22 November 2007. 
  18. ^ "Chicken in the basket of UK goods". BBC. Retrieved 15 November 2013. "Wine boxes, MP3 players and rentals from DVD hire shops have been removed to make way, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said." 

External links[edit]