About the "punt"
The bottom of a wine bottle, more often than not, is not flat but deeply indented in a cone shape. This odd dent prompts one of our most frequently asked wine questions: What's it called, and what is it for? We haven't addressed this topic in the Wine Advisor since March 1999, so let's have a quick look at it today.
The name part is simple: The wine-bottle dent (in English) is called a "punt," just like the kick on fourth down in American football. (Even more coincidentally if just as inexplicably, those in the bottle-making trade call it a "kick-up," also evocative of boot toe on football leather.)
What's it for? Here we move onto less certain ground, as this tradition seems to go back to the earliest days of bottle making, long before glass bottles were widely used for wine.
One theory holds that early glass blowers discovered that a deep indentation made a sturdier bottle than a simple round or flat-bottomed flask ... a possibility that gains some credibility from the deep punt in most Champagne bottles, which must withstand heavy internal pressure. Other experts speculate that the dent reflects the shape of the iron rod used to hold the bottle while it was being blown.
(A related if probably mythical speculation, by the way, suggests that the standard size of wine and liquor bottles - one-fifth of a gallon or the rough equivalent 750 ml - was the coincidental result of that being the amount of air that an average glass-blower could produce with one good deep breath.)
More theories abound. For instance, the fact that the crease around the punt does a dandy job of collecting sediment prompts speculation that wine-bottle makers intended it that way. Champagne bottles are often stacked nose-to-punt during production, and some sommeliers like to hold the bottle with thumb in punt for graceful pouring.
And of course, if you've ever noticed how effectively the extra cardboard packaging expands the apparent size of a candy bar, you might be excused for wondering if the punt represents a similar marketing ploy.
One thing is certain: There's no real need for the punt in modern wine bottles. But as with so much about wine - not excluding the natural cork - tradition is an important part of marketing wine, and a lot of consumers feel vaguely uneasy if we don't get what we're used to.
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J et F Lurton 2002 "Les Salices" Viognier Vin de Pays d'Oc ($13.50)
Very pale straw color. Fresh and floral aromas are typical of the variety, although this one's on the delicate side. Tart and crisp in flavor, fresh white fruit and tangy acidity make it a good food companion; simple but clean and balanced, a good expression of Viognier. U.S. importer: Ex Cellars Wine Agencies Inc., Solvang, Calif. (Oct. 31, 2003)
FOOD MATCH: A fine match with a hearty autumn dish of German-style bratwurst with sauerkraut.
VALUE: A bit dear at the price I paid; it's widely available on the Web for less than $10.
WHEN TO DRINK: Best drunk up in the next year or so, while it's fresh.
WEB LINK: The artsy, flashy Lurton Website is best viewed with a high-speed connection at
FIND THIS WINE ONLINE: Locate vendors and compare prices of Lurton Viognier on Wine-Searcher.com:
California Wine Club
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This week on WineLoversPage.com
Here are links to some of our recently published articles and features that I hope you'll enjoy:
Dave McIntyre's WineLine - The crystal goblet
Nat Decants - The Tipping Point
Wine Lovers' Voting Booth: Your wine time online
Last Week's Wine Advisor Index
The Wine Advisor's daily edition is usually distributed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (and, for those who subscribe, the FoodLetter on Thursdays). Here's the index to last week's columns:
Two from the South (Dec. 5, 2003) http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor1/tswa031205.phtml
Food-friendly Malbec (Dec. 3, 2003) http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor1/tswa031203.phtml
Readers talk back (Dec. 1, 2003) http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor1/tswa031201.phtml
Complete 30 Second Wine Advisor archive:
Wine Advisor FoodLetter: Meatloaf: More than comfort food (Dec. 4, 2003)
Wine Advisor Foodletter archive:
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Monday, Dec. 8, 2003