Unlike with perfume bottles, wine bottles all pretty much look the same in terms of size and shape. Even colour variations are relatively standard. So while today wine bottles aren’t particularly interesting, their history and how to they got to be what they are – is.
- The history of glass making is intrinsically woven into the way wine storage, transportation and sales have developed. Glass has been around since 3000 BC and was first produced in Northern Syria. The Ancient Romans are known for having developed the art of glass blowing. Glass was used domestically and in industry in Ancient Rome and we know that the Romans made wine bottles.
- 2. In the beginning, Roman glass wine bottles were too fragile for transport. As a result, clay vessels were used when transporting wine. These vessels were called Amphorae. Glass bottles were used for special occasions, probably like a decanter is used today.
- The origin of the word “bottle” came from the Latin word “buttis” which means cask. The word “buttocks” also originates from this same Latin root.
- In the 17th century, the coal furnace was invented and this changed the course of glass making. The intense heat created the opportunity for thicker and more durable glass. However, consistency of the size and shape of the bottles was difficult. At this time, there were no labels on the bottles only stamps embedded by the bottle maker.
- The introduction of the cork made transporting wine in glass bottles more easy. The fat round bottles previously used were replaced with long narrow ones so that the bottles could be laid down to avoid spoilage and the sediment could be more clearly seen by the imbiber.
- Bottles were not standardized until 1979. At this time, wine in England was still sold by the barrel and then poured into nonstandard bottles. Due to trade relations, in 1979, the wine bottle was standardized to hold 750ml. It used to be called the “fifth” for 1/5 gallon until the standardization of the metric system by the ATF.
- Some of the bigger bottles, often called “novelty bottles”, are named after biblical personas and kings. Other special wine bottles are named according to their capacity.
Bottle Name Size
Pony 189 ml wine
Half-bottle or Split 375 ml wine
Bottle 750 ml wine
Magnum 2 wine bottles (1.5L)
Marie-Jean 3 wine bottles
Double Magnum 4 wine bottles (3.0L)
Jeroboam (sparkling wines) 4 wine bottles (3.0L)
Reboboam (red wines) 6 wine bottles (4.5L)
Imperial 8 wine bottles (6.0L)
Methuselah (sparkling wines) 8 wine bottles (6.0L)
Salmanazar 12 wine bottles (9.0L = 1 case)
Balthazar 16 wine bottles (12.0L)
Nebuchadnezzar 20 wine bottles (15.0L)
Soverign 67 wine bottles (50L)