How to tell where your French wine is from by looking at the bottle shape

Did you know you could tell where a wine is from without having to taste or even small the wine?

Unlike spirits, French wine producers bottle their wines according to the region’s bottle shape. Naturally, that means stepping into a wine store provides a sensory experience, with an array of bottle types, from tall and elegant to squat and bold, traditional to modern, and a spectrum of colors, including pale greens, deep inky tones, and clear bottles showcasing the wine’s hues.

But what are the reasons behind wineries’ choice of bottle style and colour and how can you tell where the bottle is from just by looking at the shape? Here’s our guide.

See also: The ultimate beginner’s guide to cognac

Wine bottles from Burgundy
The Burgundy bottle exudes an air of sensuality with its wide base and flowing, curvaceous lines that culminate in a shorter neck. In contrast to the Bordeaux, this bottle boasts no straight edges or sharp shoulders but rather a gentle, undulating slope to the top. The Burgundy bottle is typically reserved for wines made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes.

Wine bottles from Bordeaux
The Bordeaux bottle shape is likely the most widely used design for wine bottles worldwide, and it has its origins in the iconic wine region of Bordeaux, France. This design features a straight, tall body with high, sharply-cut shoulders that lead to a straight neck. It is a familiar sight in almost every country that produces wine. Grapes most often associated with the Bordeaux bottle are the key ‘Bordeaux’ varietals, including Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chenin Blanc.

Wine bottles from The Rhone Valley
The Rhone bottle is similar to the Burgundy in shape but has a slightly taller profile and longer neck. Originating from the Rhone Valley in France, traditional Rhone wines are often adorned with an embossed badge or shield, adding to their distinctive appearance. Rhone wines are known for their bold, full-bodied flavors and complex aromas, making them a favorite among wine enthusiasts. Grenache, Mourvedre, Viognier, Syrah, Marsanne and Roussanne are some of the most popular grape varietals used to produce Rhone wines, each contributing its unique character to the blend. While Rhone bottles can be found in other countries, they often lack the traditional badge or shield seen on the French versions.

See also: Artisanal French gins are seeing a global boom. Here are the best ones to try

Photo by Sebastian Coman Photography

Wine bottles from Champagne
The Champagne bottle shares a similar design with the Burgundy bottle, but it is crafted using thicker and heavier glass to withstand the pressure of carbonation. Additionally, it often features a large punt at the bottom of the bottle. Champagne has long been considered a celebration drink, with its effervescence and luxurious associations making it a popular choice for special occasions such as weddings, anniversaries, and New Year’s Eve. This association with celebration has led to the adoption of Champagne-style bottles by producers of sparkling wine worldwide, making it a truly iconic design.

Wine bottles from Alsace
The Alsace bottle, along with its variations like the Mosel and Rhine bottles, boasts a tall, slender and elegantly sleek design, reminiscent of its roots in the border regions between France and Germany. These bottles are known for their shallow punt at the bottom, which gives them a striking appearance when displayed. However, due to their elongated shape, they can be challenging to store in standard wine racks at home as they tend to slide out easily.

The Alsace bottle is typically associated with high-quality white wines made from grapes such as Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, and Gruner Veltliner. These wines are known for their aromatic profiles, vibrant acidity, and crisp minerality. In fact, Alsace is renowned for producing some of the finest white wines in the world, often characterized by their complexity and ability to age gracefully. The Mosel and Rhine bottles are also commonly used for high-quality German Rieslings, which are often regarded as some of the world’s greatest white wines.

Top photo by Dziana Hasanbekava 

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