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Jul 16, 2018

After more hairy details on our crazy and delayed move, and a shout out to UNC Business School, our alma mater for helping when things got tough, we discuss the topic: Glass bottles, which are the most common container for finished wine and their evolution is fascinating!

 

History

  • Antiquity – long jars/amphora
  • Romans invented blowing glass –maybe used to serve wine
  • 1636 – first time glass bottles in post-Roman Britain
  • 1690 – 1720 a typical bottle looked like an onion!
  • In the 1730s, binning (storage on wine on its side) became popular and that made cork a better closure – kept cork wet and not dried out. The cylindrical shape was popularized!

 

Glass making and glass size

  • Bottle glass is made by heating together sand harvested from dunes, sodium carbonate, and limestone. If recycled bottles are used, they’re crushed, which hastens the melting process. Furnaces get to 2,700˚F temps to heat glass enough so you can shape it!
  • Size: Larger bottles = slower aging 
  • Standard: 750 ml, half/split is 375 ml
  • Magnum: 2 bottles (1.5 L)
  • Jerobaum: 4 bottles (3 L)
  • Rehoboam: 6 bottles (4.5L)
  • Methuselah: 8 bottles (6 L)
  • Salmanazar: 12 bottles (9 L)
  • Balthazar: 16 bottles (12 L)
  • Nebuchadnezzar: 20 bottles (15 L)
  • (I forgot to mention Melchior! 24 bottles)

 

 

The Marketing behind bottles…

  • Regions adopt a specific bottle size and shape
  • Thicker glass makes a bottle stronger, which is useful for sparkling, and large-format bottles, but for most wines it’s for perception and the extra cost is passed on to you
  • Shapes:
    • Burgundy bottles – sloping shoulders, long neck
    • Bordeaux – big shoulders
    • Flutes – no punt
    • Champagne bottles – thick because they have to protect 6 atmospheres of pressure
  • Punt: is an inverse indentation. This is important for stability in Champagne bottles, but doesn’t matter for other bottles. A deep punt requires more glass to make, again the cost is passed to us! The flute shape has no punt!

 

  • We wrap with a discussion of bottle color – from brown, to dark green, to deadleaf to clear, we break it all down!

 

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