Bottom of wine bottles

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Dear Dr. Vinny,

Why is there an indentation in the bottom of a wine bottle? This is deeper in some bottles than in others.

—Bob C., Ashland, Ore.

Dear Bob,

That indentation is called a punt, and it’s a good thing that football season is over, or I would be trying to make a joke about the name. Historically, punts were a function of wine bottles being made by glassblowers. The seam was pushed up to make sure the bottle could stand upright and there wasn’t a sharp point of glass on the bottom. It’s also thought that the punt added to the bottle’s structural integrity.

Bottles nowadays are much stronger and machine-made, so the punt is simply part of wine-bottle tradition, though some say it helps collect the sediment as wines age. Punts no longer serve a structural function except in bottles of sparkling wine, which have constant pressure inside. In these cases, the punt allows for more even distribution of pressure.

The size of the punt doesn’t mean anything about the quality of the wine inside, but it can be a bit gimmicky, because some bottles just look like they’re on steroids, with deep punts and extra-heavy glass.

—Dr. Vinny

Have you ever noticed a dent at the bottom of wine bottles, jam jars and even your favourite Nutella jar? These days even normal mineral water bottles have it. This seemingly useless dent is not only a design feature, it has functional purposes as well.

Remember that one time when you balanced a bottle on your fingers? Well, this small dent was working hard to make sure the bottle does not fall off. But, has it ever crossed your mind if there are more reasons why most bottles and jars have a dent at the bottom?

Well, here are some answers:

1. It makes it easier for you to hold the bottle. The dent acts as a spot where you can place your palm or thumb and use the other fingers to wrap around the base.

Source Goodfood.com

2. It provides an optical illusion to your eyes, thus, tricking you into thinking the bottle is bigger than the standard size.

Source Cooperscorner

3. Optical illusion also saves up to 57 grams of the content inside the bottle, thereby deceiving you to think that there is more content than there actually is.

Source Pleasepasstherecipe

4. It adds strength to the base of bottles and jars, keeping them from bursting due to the high pressure in which the wine or jam is kept. It also keeps the content intact and fresh.

Source The Telegraph UK

Source Gardensonline

6. It makes it effortless for you to clean the bottle because water can easily spread around the bottle in an even manner.

Source laweekly.com

7. It increases the contact surface between the content like wine and the ice, thereby keeping the drink cool. Wine bottles are normally kept in ice buckets and better contact surface with the ice allows the wine to cool faster and stay chillier.

Source Wickedwineswick

8. The traditional way of stacking wine bottles require keeping the nose of one on the dent of another, which is why they always have a dent.

Source Vinepair

9. It prevents the bottle from resonating, keeping it from breaking during transportation or shipping.

Source Vinepair

10. As opposed to a flat-bottom bottle, dents prevent the bottle from toppling over because it provides more stability.

Source Vinepair

Most wine bottles have a deep, concave indentation on their bottom, especially more expensive ones like high-quality Bordeaux or Burgundy bottles.

This concavity is not just a bow to tradition, left over from when all bottles were made individually by hand. In other words, it is not just decoration, as some sources attest.

See also: How To Store Wine – Wine Rack Buying Guide

Why Do Wine Bottles Have a Concave Bottom?

The concave depression on the bottle of wine bottles does serve a purpose, although tradition certainly drives the making of such bottles.

The indentation on the bottom of wine bottles is called a punt. It is also sometimes called a kick-up, push-up, or dimple.

Purpose of Wine Bottle Dimple

The glass of the dimple or ‘punt’ part of the bottle is very thick and the shape helps provide structural strength to the bottom of the bottle.

Since wine bottles are stored on their sides, a regular thin-walled bottom could easily break should the bottle be tapped. Also, for Champagne or sparkling wines, the punt increases the strength of the bottle a great deal, providing more surface so that the bottle can withstand the pressure of the carbon dioxide gas, making it less likely to burst. The extra weight at the bottom of the bottle, as well, give the bottle more stability, so that it does not fall over as easily during use.

The dimple or punt (indentation) on the bottom of a Bordeaux style wine bottle.

Some say that the punt serves to catch sediment from the wine, as it precipitates out of solution. The ring at the bottom collects the sediment which forms into a hard circle that does not as easily dislodge and enter back into the wine. However, since wine bottles are stored on their sides, and since there is a traditional process used to collect sediments near the cork, which can be more easily removed before decanting or pouring, and since high-sediment wines tend to be stored in sharply shouldered bottles that are better at catching sediments, the punt is not likely to serve much purpose for this function. Wine bottle manufacture is steeped in tradition, and any feature that seems to hold a certain advantage may well have appeared by accident, and then have been reasoned after the fact, including the punt. However, regardless of whether the features were specifically imagined and produced to serve a certain purpose, or they were already present due to the realities of the manufacturing process, or simply for esthetics, the advantages are still there.

The punt makes a good place for waiters, or anyone else, to place their thumbs while pouring wine but the punt was not originally place on the bottles for this purpose.

There are actually up to 9 different types of wine bottles, although tall slim types of bottles with differently sloped shoulders are the most common. Most wine racks are meant to accommodate these commons types, the most frequently used of which is probably the Bordeaux style bottle.

Why Do Wine Bottles Have a Dimple in the Bottom? 

Wine bottles are elegant. Their sloped necks come to a gentle peak. They’re supported by a stout but understated trunk of a bottle. The color, typically rich sap green, absorbs color and emits a warm glow in the light of a kitchen or bar. The bottles themselves are sometimes as much a work of art as the wine that’s inside them.

But there’s one bit of the typical wine bottle that remains elusive: the bottom. The “dimple” or bulge at the bottom of many wine bottles is known as the “punt,” and it’s not entirely clear why it exists.

Wine bottles have had punts as long as the earth has had wine bottles, it seems, and until we have the capability to time travel, we’re left to wonder how the tradition of wine punts started and, perhaps more importantly, why we still do it today.

Do punts help winemakers cheat you of wine?

No, most punts are so small you’re not losing a single teaspoon. Some, yes, are more pronounced, but if this were really used as a cost-saving measure, you could bet most bottles would have exaggerated punts to make a good season’s wine supply stretch a bit more.

Are punts a sign of quality?

If you do a quick Google search on the theories behind wine bottle punts, you’ll quickly stumble across speculation that suggests higher quality wines have bigger punts because the bottle is more stout and sturdy. (More glass is needed for the longer punt, the theory goes, and wealthy winemakers can afford the more expensive bottles.) That’s just simply not true. A punt will tell you as much about the quality and taste of wine as the label will. That is to say, very little.

Do punts help wines cool faster?

This holds some merit. Punts increase surface area, so bottles in fridges or buckets of water might cool faster. But this theory is busted when you realize punts have been present on wine bottles long before anyone had heard of coolant for a refrigerator, or even ice for that matter. So while it may help get your whites crisp and cool today, that’s not why punts exist.

Do punts collect sediment?

They actually do, but that’s not likely the reason they’re there. Sediment forms at the bottom of bottles as wine sits and ages. If you decant the wine, the sediment may remain in the valleys between the punt and bottle wall. That can help with flavor.

However, there’s no guarantee the sediment stays in place. It’s a happy byproduct of the punt’s existence, but it doesn’t seem that’s why punts were used in the first place.

So why do wine bottles have punts?

Truthfully, beats us. The best theory seems to be that wine bottle makers of yore needed a way to make sure their bottles stood flat on a table. The bottoms of hand-blown bottles may round out slightly as they cool. They may even have a sharp point because of the tools the glassblower uses. To keep this from happening (and bottles of wine from teeter-tottering off the table), glassblowers could have pushed up ever so slightly to create what we know today as the punt.

Now that most wine bottles are made by machine and are far sturdier than bottles made decades and centuries ago, the punt isn’t perhaps necessary. Instead, it seems to be a vestige of bygone days.

In fact historically, the dents (or punts as they’re officially known as) were put in the bottom of bottles to help them stand up straight and prevent them from breaking.

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However since glass bottles are now made by machine, and are a lot more structurally sound, they’re unlikely to need the indentation. But aside from sticking with tradition, the punts actually serve some purpose still.

According to Stéphane, the indentation helps with the pouring of wine, allowing someone’s thumb to sit comfortably in the indent (the pro way of pouring).

Secondly, he told us that a dent in the bottom can help collect the sediment (solid material that settles at the bottom of a wine bottle) as a wine ages.

‘The punt at the bottom of a wine bottle is down to the producer’s choice and has no impact on the quality of wine,’ he told us. ‘It makes sense for wine producers whose wines are designed for long cellaring – such as a fine Bordeaux – to use this type of bottle, but not necessarily for a producer whose wines will be drunk within a year from release (like a rose).’

MORE: THE RED WINE STAIN SOLUTION? AN UNSPILLABLE WINE GLASS!

So there you are, before you go checking the bottom of wine bottles to check their quality, it’s all a myth! Instead pour yourself and your friends a glass and wow them with your newfound vino knowledge.

Cheers!

MORE: 5 MISTAKES YOU MAKE WHEN BUYING WINE

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Why do wine bottles have punts?

Besides a long, elegant neck, a corked (or screw-capped) top, and an eye-catching label, what else do you spot on a wine bottle? Hint: check the bottom of your bottle. If you answered a “dimple,” then you just singled out one of the most mysterious features of the wine bottle, the punt.

There have been numerous reasons offered explaining how the use of punts came about. In fact, there’s no clear consensus as to why the punt is there, but there are plenty of fascinating theories.

Out of all the theories (some of them bizarre) we singled out the nine that seem most plausible to us.

1. The Punt Makes It Easier To Hold A Wine Bottle.

A punt makes it easier to hold a wine bottle – as well as pour from it – with one hand: If you grab your wine bottle from the bottom, it’s no surprise that the punt is present, acting as a spot to place your thumb while the rest of your fingers grab the base of the bottle. It is to aid with the pouring of the wine when being served at a table for the enjoyment of your guests. It allows for service to occur at arm’s length in order to minimize disturbance.

2. The Punt Allows the Bottle to Stand Upright

It makes the bottle more stable on an uneven surface. It is true that a bottle with a punt is more stable than a flat bottomed bottle on a rough surface.

3. Punts Create an Optical Illusion That a Wine Bottle Is Bigger Than It Actually Is

Need we say more? If you’re comparing two 750 ml bottles, and one looks like it’s holding more juice, your eyes can often deceive your logic.

4. Punts Catch Sediment

The angle of a punt allows sediment in a wine bottle to settle down into a tight space around the base, preventing the sediment from being disturbed and released back into the wine as it is poured into a glass.

5. It adds strength to the bottle

I like this reason. It feels right. And yet, and yet… There are plenty of cheap wine bottles that do not have a punt not to mention the many other types of bottles with flat bottles.

6. Punts Make Your Wine Chill Quicker

The indentation, at least for white wine, increases the internal surface area of the bottle enabling faster chilling.

7. According To Folklore, a Punt Prevented a Bottle from Being Refilled

One tale states that taverns had a vertical steel pin in their bars. When a bottle of wine was consumed, the bottom of it would be punctured with the pins, ensuring that the bottle would not be refilled. We have to note that while this story is certainly colorful, it doesn’t explain why full bottles of wine contain punts.

8. Punts Make the Bottle More Resistant To High Pressure

For the same reason as aluminum soft drinks cans do – to make them stronger and able to withstand a buildup of pressure within. In some cases fermentation continues after the wine has been bottled – and so pressure builds up behind the cork. A solid, thicker base, with greater surface area with which to handle the force from the wine, ensures the bottle will not burst from the pressure.

9. Punts Allow Bottles to Be More Easily Organized

Bottles of Champagne and other sparkling wines have a deep punt. According to traditional winemaking methods, sparkling wine bottles are put upside down. The neck is placed downward, one on top of the other. For still wines, that is to say without bubbles, there is no need for such storage. Though a theory suggest that in the old days punts made it easier to transport and store wine bottles as punts allowed the bottles to be stacked into each other, which reduced how much they move in transit.

Punts do appear to serve many purposes. Perhaps most importantly, they stand out in your mind, and make you curious to learn more about them, which is why you chose to read this article!

Many wine bottles have indented bottoms, but not all. Justin Knock MW on why, and whether there is a relation to quality – as some people believe.

Do all wine bottles have a punt?

Emma Bell, London, asks: I opened a Riesling recently that didn’t have a punt – I thought all wine bottles did? And is there a correlation between wine quality and size of the punt, or is ‘the bigger the better’ just an urban myth?

Justin Knock MW replies: It’s a good question – all Riesling lacks a punt.

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The reasons are largely historical and hark back to different bottle-manufacturing technology in Germany, the homeland of Riesling, though the bottle shape and lack of a punt has persisted across the world today for these wines.

Punts were an artefact rather than an intention of bottle manufacturing. Some saw them as advantageous for reds, enabling better sediment separation for decanting, and for greater bottle strength – important for sparkling wine.

  • How to sabre Champagne

Puntless bottles need less glass and are therefore cheaper to manufacture and transport.

It may simply be that the creators of the Hock bottle in Germany had more sophisticated glass-manufacturing technology, with its global adoption most likely driven in an era when Hock-style wines were more highly prized.

Quality and the wine bottle punt

Editor’s note: While opinion differs on the usefulness of the wine bottle punt versus its aesthetic tradition, most critics argue that a wine’s quality can’t be judged on the size of the punt.

If any correlation exists, some have pointed out that wines at cheaper prices must be produced with lower costs. It is arguable, on this basis, that premium wines are more likely to have a punt because this requires more glass.

But, as the Riesling example above shows, this is far from a universal rule and would be a blunt instrument for anyone trying to measure quality.

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What you can learn from the bottom of a wine bottle

So much for you to read, and so little time before the chat! I’ll get right to it.

In Food this week, Wine columnist Dave McIntyre wraps up his four-part series about Barboursville Vineyards’ 2015 vintage, the 25th produced by renowned winemaker Luca Paschina. For those who can’t make it down to the winery, northeast of Charlottesville, we offer a list of Washington-area stores that sell Barboursville wines.

If store-bought celery strikes you as nearly tasteless, maybe that’s because it is. At the farmers market, Emily C. Horton found an interesting alternative: seasonal, locally grown celery, vibrantly green and surprisingly tasty. She has recipes, too.

There’s more: T. Susan Chang reviews J. Kenji López-Alt’s first solo cookbook, “The Plate Lab” — with recipes, of course. And in Weeknight Vegetarian, Joe Yonan talked with Leanne Brown, author of “Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4 a Day,” about cooking on a budget.

All of which means there’ll be no shortage of hot topics for today’s Free Range chat, which welcomes Emily Horton as a special guest. So bring your questions about celery — or anything else — and join in the fun at noon.

Remember: The earlier you post a question, the better your chances of getting an answer. I’ll start things off with a leftover query from last week’s chat.

When we were picking a wine at the market, my son, who lives in France, was trying to explain to me that when a bottle of French wine is flat on the bottom, it is for drinking, but when deeply concave it is best used for cooking. Am I understanding this correctly? It was odd to have him picking up the bottles and fondling the bottoms to assess quality.

Well, I already knew what wine guy McIntyre would tell you, but I decided to ask him anyway and was not disappointed.

“I hate to say this to a loving parent,” he said in an e-mail, “but your son is wrong. I even read your question to Jancis Robinson, the world’s leading wine writer, who was in town last night for a book signing of her fourth-edition Oxford Companion to Wine, and she blurted out, ‘Why, that’s rubbish!’ 

“The indentation at the bottom of the bottle is called the ‘punt,’ for some reason even the Oxford Companion does not explain. It is common in sparkling wine bottles because it strengthens the glass against the pressure of the wine. In still wine, a deep punt is a sign of pretension: It makes the bottle look bigger and therefore more expensive. It is meant to signal a fine wine that you should be willing to pay exorbitantly for, not a cooking wine.”

So, then, a lot of fine wines (and fine-wine wannabes) have concave bottoms. Is it possible you misunderstood, and what your son actually said was that the flatter-bottomed bottles were better for cooking? Well, that’s not right, either. The truth is that the bottom of the bottle has no bearing on the quality of what’s inside.

I did a little research on my own, and a popular theory holds that the punt is a vestige of days when wine bottles were blown by hand. So look at it as a charming blast from the past — and ask your son whether his French friends might have been having a little fun at his expense.

More from Food:

Put a glass cork in it? It’s us vs. them in the wine world.

Why does a wine bottle have the indent in the bottom? 

That indent in the bottom of a wine bottle is also called a punt and the short answer is that no one knows exactly why it’s there. It seems to be more about preserving tradition than serving a function in today’s world. And there is much speculation about what purpose the punt in the bottom of the wine bottle had in earlier times.

One suggestion is that when bottles were still hand-blown, the glass blower’s tool would leave a small scar on the bottom of the bottle. If the bottom remained flat, that scar would prevent it from sitting squarely on a tabletop– so out of necessity the punt may have been invented.

Another plausible idea is that with the addition of a punt, by design it increases the strength of the bottles themselves. Wine bottles with punts are also less likely to resonate. This was important when wine was transported from place to place on unpaved roads, ensuring the bottle and its contents survived the journey.

Some also say the punt was devised to preserve the integrity of bottles filled with champagne. Wine with bubbles is under enormous amounts of pressure. In the early days of champagne making, the monks worked with weaker glass and it was a very dangerous job being in the cellar. Bottles regularly exploded, maiming and killing those nearby. Monks began wearing metal armor and chainmaille to prevent their demise by wine bottle, under they discovered that a bottle with a punt was less likely to shatter.

Another theory is that deceptive merchants could fool their customers into believing there was more liquid than what the bottle could actually hold if their patrons were unaware of the punt in the bottom. This seems a good explanation before there were laws put in place to protect the customer. Now most wineries use standard bottles that hold 750ml so no matter if the bottle looks larger or smaller, the purchaser is guaranteed that much wine.

Regardless of how and why the punt was invented, it does have some redeeming qualities for today’s wine lover. When cleaning a bottle, the hot water is thoroughly dispersed by the punt to aid in a more complete sanitation. Glass can be slippery so having the punt in the bottom of the bottle gives the person pouring wine something to grip. The punt also diverts any sediment down into the ring along the base of the bottle. This design helps the wine drinker avoid those unsavory chunks in the wine glass.

So, although enveloped in a mysterious past, the wine bottle punt can be placed into the category of “if it’s not broken, why fix it?”

This article was also published on Examiner.com.

NOOKS AND CRANNIES
Why do wine bottles have a large indent in the base?

G Day, Crawley, West Sussex

  • The large indent in the base of wine bottles is known as a punt. It is intended to strengthen the bottle and not to give the impression that the bottle contains more liquid than it really does. David Morgan, Madrid
  • In wine which throws a sediment, the indent means that the amount of wine you have to leave at the end of the bottle is less than if the bottle had a flat bottom. This is why more expensive wine tends to have the indent more often than the cheap stuff which doesn’t have sediments. R Tanner, St Monans, Scotland

  • To create the optical illusion that the bottle is bigger of course. Cosmetics manufacturers have taken this technique several steps further. William Barrett, London NW10
  • For the same reason as aluminium soft drinks cans do – to make them stronger and able to withstand a build up of pressure within. In some cases fermentation continues after the wine has been bottled – and so pressure builds up behind the cork. Justin Steed, Stockholm, Sweden
  • To disperse the sediment, and hinder it from rising up when poured. Kevan Mayor, London GB
  • So that at 9.50pm, just before the off-licence closes, you think you have 2 glasses left in the bottle.Only to discover at 10.01, there is only one. Aid Corcoran, Bromley
  • Wine bottles used for still wine don’t have an indent in the base. However, bottles used for champagne and other sparkling wines do – for two reasons. First, the indent is designed to prevent the bottle exploding. The curved wall of the bottle makes for a very strong structure, and the indent makes the base as strong as the wall. Second, during the fermentation process the bottles are stacked upside down – in order for the solid matter that results from the fermentation to come to rest on the underside of the cork (it is later expelled and the bottle topped up during the degorgement process). The indent allows the bottles to be safely stacked with the neck of one resting on the indent of the bottle below. Nigel Shaw, London SW19
  • Contrary to Nigel Shaw’s assertion, bottles for still wine also have an indent. As I understand, early bottles were blown with slightly rounded bases which made them unstable, so a rod would be inserted while the glass was soft and the base pulled upwards to form the indent or ‘kick’. This gave a more stable base to the bottle. Peter Kershaw, Radlett UK
  • I was startled to read the explanation given by Nigel Shaw. Wine bottles for still wine most certainly do have an indent, especially those in the “Burgundy” shape, and particularly in those containing the more expensive wines. My son developed a theory that if in doubt at the off licence, feel a few bottoms. Secondly, champagne (plus fizzy wine with aspirations) isn’t stacked upside down “with the neck of one nesting on the indent of the bottle below” but placed neck first in a set of holes made in a wooden board about 6ft x 4ft. Starting at the horizontal, each bottle is given a 15 degree twist and slight upward tilt each day, until as close to vertical as possible. The sediment spirals down the bottle to the neck for degorgement. I agree with Mr Shaw that strength would be a reason for fizzy wine, but that still leaves us wondering why the bottles for still wines have the indents. Stephen Hill, Hobbs Pavilion Restaurant, Cambridge
  • One reason I heard was that it provides a place for light to “sparkle” – and therefore show off the colour of the wine nicely. And while all sparkling wines (as far as I know) have indents, not all still wines (even some fairly decent ones) do – although most do. Benjy Arnold, London, UK

  • Wine bottles used to be individually blown and hence were spherical, somewhat like Chianti bottles. The more stable, straight-sided bottles were produced with the aid of an iron rod pressed into the bottom of the bottle while the glass was still workable, leaving this indentation. The iron rod was called a “punto” and so the indentation it made while rolling the bottle became know as the “punt”. As for Stephen Hill’s theory that you should always go for the bottle with the deepest punt (Notes & Queries, April 6): I used to subscribe to that myself but experience has taught me that some clever vintners have learned to exploit it! Bill Watson, Chorlton, Manchester
  • Many wines continue to develop in the bottle and this process produces sediments. These fall to the bottom of the bottle over time and form a layer. With a flat- bottomed bottle, when the wine is poured, this layer is easily disturbed and the poured wine ends up cloudy, spoiling its appearance and sometimes its taste. Having an indent in the bottom means that the sediment is deeper, with a smaller surface area, thus easier to avoid disturbing. This also provides an explanation as to why Stephen Hill’s son noticed the connection with more expensive wines. Most cheaper wines are filtered or whirled in a centrifuge before bottling, avoiding sediment and thus the need for the more expensive punt-bottomed bottles. Many wine buffs consider that wine only achieves its full complexity if allowed to develop without filtering. Nigel Duncan, London SW20
  • A cousin of mine who worked briefly in a champagne bar told me that the dent was to accommodate the pourer’s thumb, with the fore- and middle fingers placed underneath the bottle, so that a minimum of body heat was transferred to the bottle while pouring. I would rather believe that it was to withstand the high pressure inside the unopened bottle (having an arched, rather than flat, surface), whilst allowing the bottle to stand on a flat surface. Tim Waterfield, Montreal Canada
  • The indentation, at least for white wine, increases the internal surface area of the bottle enabling faster chilling. Jason Thompson, Newbiggin by the Sea
  • Additionally, it allows the marketing bods to shape a tall (thus bigger looking bottle) with the same width, but which actually has the same standard internal volume due to the dent in the bottom. Compare a few bottles in a shop and you will see the way the bottle designer trades off the size of the dent against other dimenstions. Michael Fisher, Brisbane Australia
  • I drink two bottles of supermarket red wine a week, none of it sparkling, and I rarely pay more than £3.49 for a bottle. They come from various parts of the world and some have punts and some do not. Nowadays, wine bottles are machine moulded. Small differences in the shape of the bottle may mean that the mould has to be more complicated and thus more costly, but the effect on the cost of each bottle would be negligible. As for clever vintners exploiting the punt, I don’t see how they can do that now that the volume is stated on the label. I suspect that the punt is another of those wine snobberies, like the ridiculous practice of stuffing the neck with a piece of bark, which tends to taint the wine and is no cheaper than the much more efficient screw cap. And if someone writes to say that corks “breathe”, I would like to see them prove it. Ray Cobbett, Billericay, Essex
  • Ray Cobbett believes that vintners cannot exploit the punt because “the volume of wine is stated on the label”. The EU permits a variance of 20ml per bottle, following a plea from producers who stated that this was necessary to allow for inaccuracies in the bottling machines. So your 750ml bottle should in theory contain between 730ml and 770ml but, uncannily, will generally contain 730ml, perfectly legally, and giving the producer a bonus bottle for every three dozen. T George, School of Leisure, Hospitality & Food University of Salford
  • Ray Cobbett is right and T George is wrong: vintners “cannot exploit the punt because the volume of wine is stated on the label”. Sure, the law permits a tolerance on individual bottles to allow for variability in the performance of bottling machines, but there is an overriding requirement that the average of all bottles in a batch must not be less than the quantity declared on the label. So for every bottle found to be underfilled, there will be another which is overfilled – with no profit to the vintner. If Mr George has evidence to the contrary, he should pass it forthwith to his trading standards authority for legal action. Michael Ranken, Hythe, Kent
  • Ray Cobbett, who considers wine corks to be a “ridiculous snobbery”,might like to consider that the traditional management of cork oak forest in Portugal, which supplies 80 per cent of the world’s wine corks, is vital to both the economy of one of the poorest regions in Europe and the sustainability of one of the world’s richest ecosystems. The cork oak forest, habitat of the Iberian lynx, black stork, Bonelli’s eagle and Spanish imperial eagle, is under severe threat from the increasing use of plastic “corq” (manufactured by Supremecorq, in which Bill Gates is a major investor). Right-on wine drinkers should express concern to their supermarkets – especially Oddbins, which intends to phase out the use of corks by the end of the year. Clare Butler, Milton Keynes, Bucks
  • Further to the letter from Clare Butler regarding the issue of cork vs alternative stoppers, I would like to state that Oddbins does not have a policy to phase out natural cork by the end of the year. In fact, 95% of our wines still use natural cork closures and, while we support the use of alternatives where natural cork of the right quality is unavailable, it is not our intention to phase out natural cork. There is, however, an issue over the alarming number of “corked” wines being experienced in the market. Levels of occurrence are widely recognised as unacceptable, and research into ways of combating this must be undertaken. It seems unlikely that any other consumable product with a similar failure rate would be allowed to continue manufacture/packaging in the same way, although the impact of the use of alternatives is an emotive and complex issue and one that we do not consider lightly. Karen Wise, Oddbins London SW19
  • I have bought wines in Spain, Chile, South Africa, Peru, Venezuela (before Chavez), Switzerland, Germany, and many different states in the US. Here’s what I know for a fact: The deeper the punt….the more expensive the wine….and expense has nothing to do with taste. Don Harris, Tishomingo US
  • The indented bottle bottom, or “punt” as it is called, is to rip you off of half a bottle you would get if the bottom were flat. Horatio, Chesterfield England
  • It is to aid with the pouring of the wine when being served at a table for the enjoyment of your guests. The thumb is inserted in the indentation to allow for service to occur at arm’s length in order to minimise disturbance. Paul, Cygnet Australia
  • The bottom of any hand blown vessel started as the end of the bubble. To finish the top end,the blown bubble has to be taken off the blow pipe and put onto the punty/pontil rod with a little blob of molten glass. When the piece is finished, a sharp rap on the rod will break the punty off, leaving a mark. paul durfee, toronto canada
  • You don’t put shit wine in an expensive bottle so my theory is if it has a punt in the base it must be a decent wine. Gary Bell, murton england

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