The SOMM Journal

April / May 2015

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{ carte blanche } A BRIEF SNAPSHOT OF THE ANATOMY, HISTORY AND URBAN LEGEND OF THE WINE BOTTLE by Karen Moneymaker Cork High and Bottle Deep Capsule Employed to protect the cork from damage during transport and in the cellar. Predominantly manufactured from lead until the early 1990s, when producers switched to tin, polylaminate, aluminum or PVC capsules. Punt Here's where things get squirrelly. There seem to be various conflicting theories for a punt's raison d'ĂȘtre. Heralding back to the days when glass was a hand-made, free-blown object, the punt was a kick up that housed the pontil scar, or the mark that was left on the glass from the blowpipe. This would prevent the mark from scratching surfaces and also created added stability when standing upright on a flat surface. Other theories include (but are not limited to) the following: For consolidating sediment around the ring inside the bottle (when upright). For increased bottle strength (particularly in dealing with sparkling wine production). For convenience of riddling in Champagne and sparkling wine production. For ease of nesting end to end during shipment and storage. For even distribution of water when the bottle is cleaned prior to bottling. Cork Although we do see Stelvin closures and artificial corks out in the market, natural cork closures are responsible for sealing up about 80% of the total production of wine bottles each year. Historically, cork was an ideal closure due to its malleable nature and mildly oxidative potential for the aging of wine. Ullage/Fill Level Space between the bottom of the cork and the wine in the bottle (ideally between 0.2 and 0.4 inches). Can be important in identifying how a wine was stored and when considering very old bottles for resale or purchase. Glass Color of glass ranges from clear to almost black. Today, much of this decision is based on style of packag- ing, but historically color of glass was specific to regions and as a consid- eration towards how long a wine was to be cellared (i. e., darker hues of glass were used for long-lived reds, while rosĂ© and white often saw paler glass hues.) Glass represents approxi- mately 40% of the total weight of the full 750 ml. bottle. When I dove into this month's column, I expected a study of the wine bottle to be easy stuff. I couldn't have been more mistaken in this assump- tion. What follows is a concise amuse-bouche of facts, myths and oddities of the vessel that brings us our favorite beverage.

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