Not long ago I was having a wine discussion with friends and the topic of wine bottles and punts came up. The questions were: “What are they?” and “Do they serve any purpose?” Punts are the indentations or dimples in the bottom of wine bottles. They are also known as a kick-up.
Almost all wine bottles have punts except for Riesling bottles. Riesling bottles are almost always flat bottomed. The reason behind this, for the most part, is historical and goes back to different bottle manufacturing technologies in early Germany. Puntless bottles require less glass and therefore are less expensive to manufacture. It is said that this reasoning may have contributed to the German’s desire for flat bottom bottles.
Back on November 15, 2015, I posted an article on Wine Bottle Shapes. In the article I discussed punts and here is what I had to say then:
“What’s the dent in the bottom of the bottle?
The Punt is the dent in the bottom of some wine bottles.
In the bottom of most wine bottles you’ll find a deep indentation (rather than a flat bottom). In English this indentation is called a “Punt.” It isn’t in all bottles. There is no clear consensus on why the punt exists, but there are a number of theories behind its use and origin. I’ll let you be the expert and tell the rest of us which is most likely. Here are some of the reasons and theories on the Punt:
- In the early days of bottle making the glass blowers felt a punt made the bottles sturdier, especially for Champagne bottles.
- It makes the bottle easier to hold or pour from.
- Some feel a punt was designed to catch sediment. I might fall in this camp as it makes the most sense to me. The tapered punt lets the sediment collect in the bottom of the bottle in a tighter, more confined space (although most wine bottles are stored on their sides in our cellars). As I have mentioned before, it is recommended that for older bottles of wine, you stand them upright two to three days in advance of opening and decanting the wine. This allows time for the sediment to settle to the bottom of the bottle, around the punt. When the sediment is in this tight area at the bottom, it will not blend (as easily) back in with the wine when you pour your wine.
- Punts help your wine chill more quickly. When you stick a bottle in ice, the indentation fills with ice and chills more glass area of the bottle. I am not sure about this reason as mostly white wines, not reds, are chilled in ice (not always the good thing to do either, as they can get too cold and affect the taste of the wine.) But Rieslings (Rhône bottles) are typically in flat-bottom bottles.
- If you are a cynic you might think the punt allows the bottle to look bigger than it actually is. Or it makes you believe there is more wine in the bottle than there really is.”
After re-reading my comments, a couple other things come to mind which I have listed below:
- Today there is little, if any, reason for a bottle to have a punt. In the early days of manufacturing it was thought that the punt made bottles stronger. Especially important with sparkling wines or Champagne bottles.
- In some instances it makes the bottles easier to stack end to end.
I sent a couple emails to my winemaking friends and most replied the punt has no value. One said “a punt is a punt.” In the end they are a good discussion point but have little if any value in the world of wine.
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Until next week,
Calendar of Events
- December 31st – National Champagne Day
- March 3rd – National Mulled Wine Day
- April 17th – International Malbec Day
- May 4th – International Sauvignon Blanc Day
- May 9th – National Moscato Day
- May 21st – National Chardonnay Day
- May 25th – National Wine Day
- June 11th – National Rosé Wine Day