The Where and Why of Wine Bottle Shapes

The most basic aspect of wine packaging – the bottle shape – can tell you a great deal about the wine before the cork is even popped. Read on to learn about the basic bottle shapes and how they came to be.
Bordeaux: With straight sides and sharp shoulders, the bottle most commonly called “Bordeaux” originated in...Bordeaux! The shape of the bottle is said to have been designed to catch sediment in the shoulder as the wine is poured, or the design could have been for ease of storing the bottles horizontally. It is used for traditional Bordeaux varieties--cabernet sauvignon, merlot, malbec, petit verdot, cabernet franc, sauvignon blanc and semillon--not only in Bordeaux but in wine regions around the world.


Burgundy: The Burgundy bottle has a gently sloping shoulder and a wider base than the Bordeaux bottle. The theory is that this type of bottle was one of the first created, and the shape was the easiest for glass blowers to make. Burgundy varietals pinot noir and chardonnay are stored in these bottles, and they are also often used for wines from Barolo, Italy; and France’s Loire and Languedoc regions.

Champagne: A Champagne bottle is similar in shape to the Burgundy bottle but with thicker glass and a deeper punt. The design was created with Champagne’s bubbles (and enormous pressure which exceeds that of a car tire)-- in mind. 

Mosel/Alsace: Tall, thin and elegant, these bottle are used for riesling and other aromatic wines in Germany, Alsace, and other regions around the world. Beautiful they may be, but packing and stacking them proves a challenge. 

Dessert: Dessert wine bottles come in all shapes and sizes, depending on the style of wine produced and the region it’s from. There are no rules for these bottles as the evidence suggests. Just compare--sturdy Port bottles with bulges in the neck to catch sediment to tall, wafer-thin Canadian ice wine bottles!