All the pretty colours



All the pretty colours

Have you ever noticed how many varieties of wine bottles there are?  Every shape, size and colour you can think of.  Did you know that the packaging can actually tell you a lot about what is going on inside the bottle?  Every style tells its own story, from the most common high shoulder or the sloping shoulder to the wide array of unique bottles. Deep punt or flat bottom, clear glass or medicine grade brown, cork or screw-cap, every style and colour was chosen for a reason, be it tradition, cost or to compliment a label design.

Starting with the style of the bottle, this can be attributed to tradition.  The high shoulder was popularised by Bordeaux where it was used typically for the wines associated with that region, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc, while the sloping shoulder are associated with Pinot Noir, Shiraz and Chardonnay.  But travel a bit south and you will find that most of the wines in the Provance region will sport some unique bottle proudly bearing the crest of that region imprinted into the glass.  Status baby!  In the end it is the choice of the producer whether they are going to follow tradition or make their decision based om their own whim.  At Taillard Family Wines we favour the high shoulder for most of our wines – we like the regal look.

But what about the colour of the bottle?  The simple answer is that the darker the bottle, the longer you can keep it since wine age through interaction with light and air.  The colour of the bottle can therefore give you a good indication of the winemaker’s intention with regards to the ageing potential of the wine. The same wine in a clear bottled stored under bright light will age a lot faster than if that same wine was in a dark bottle stored on its side in the back of the cupboard away from any light. So be careful when buying older wines in clear bottles, especially if they are displayed under the bright lights of a display cabinet.  You will most probably not get to enjoy the intended taste but rather a compromised memory of what the wine should have been.  As a wine producer, if you are going to go through the trouble and cost associated with ageing wines in oak barrels it would be a sin not to show the wines the same respect when it comes to the packaging.  The additional cost for using darker bottles far outweighs the compromise of potential reputational losses when selling a premier wine.  The same argument can be made for using clear and more economical bottles for wines that were created for easy drinking.  The producer rightly chose not to add unnecessary cost by using more expensive packaging.  It is all about understanding the style of the wine and the target market.

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Tanya Liebenberg

All stories by: Tanya Liebenberg