>It’s Time To Punt

by Grape Stomper Todd on January 6, 2010

Since it’s football post-season time, I’m compelled to explore a certain wine term. More specifically, a wine bottle term.

If you’ve ever wondered what to call the indentation in the bottom of a wine bottle, this blog topic will end the mystery for you. In fact, you’ll learn so much about the term “punt”, you’ll surely impress (or depress, sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun) your friends at your next wine gathering.

According to Wikipedia, “punt”, refers to the recess at the bottom of a wine bottle. Despite all the wine experts out there (who are merely justifying their drinking habit by intellectualizing it), it seems no one is certain why the punt exists.

So, since there is no right answer here, let’s pick on Wikipedia. I will copy/paste the Wikipedia section entry for “Punts” under “Wine Bottle”, then I’ll offer my own unresearched response. (As an aside: If “Web” and “Log” became to be known as a “Blog”, what would you get if you also included the word, “Slob”? “Slog”? or “Blob”?) Anyway, in that vein, here is my soggy blob of a swigging wine blog, where I’ll plagiarize the Wiki answers then offer my foggy retorts:

1. “It is a historical remnant from the era when wine bottles were free blown using a blowpipe and pontil. This technique leaves a punt mark on the base of the bottle; by indenting the point where the pontil is attached, this scar would not scratch the table or make the bottle unstable.”
– I love this reason and it sounds like a plausable explanation. It’s very romantic to think of the days of yore, when bottles were personally and individually blown.

2. “It had the function of making the bottle less likely to topple over—a bottle designed with a flat bottom only needs a small imperfection to make it unstable—the dimple historically allowed for a larger margin of error.”
– I find this to be a very similar to reason #1. But instead of it simply being a “blemish” of manufacture, this reason seems like an intended design characteristic. Or the Wiki people are just being verbose…like me.

3. “It consolidates sediment deposits in a thick ring at the bottom of the bottle, preventing much/most of it from being poured into the glass.”
– Speaking of blowing, I’m blowing the whistle on this one. I don’t buy it. The sediment isn’t retained by the punt, it just pushes it to the side of the bottom of the bottle. But wait! Shouldn’t the bottle be laying on its side anyway? So actually the sediment would be along the length of the bottle not the bottom where the punt is. Hmmm, where’s the citation on this entry?

4. “It increases the strength of the bottle, allowing it to hold the high pressure of sparkling wine/champagne.”
– Okay, now my faith in Wikipedia has been restored. Yes, a thin, flat piece of glass at the bottom of a container full of pressurized liquid will soon be compromised. This would be especially unfortunate for me since Kendra, my bride, drinks sparkling wine almost exclusively. Imagine how my evening would go if Kendra did not get her bubbles due to a “design flaw”. I’m just sayin‘, you wouldn’t want to be me.

5. “It holds the bottles in place on pegs of a conveyor belt as they go through the filling process in manufacturing plants.”
– Theoretically, anyone can enter information into Wikipedia, right? Has this poster (or should I say, “poser”) ever been on a bottling line? Of course, I could be totally wrong here. Maybe when dinosaurs roamed the planet there were pegs in the conveyor belts. But I’ll bet my Brontosaurus they didn’t. Jeez, you don’t see me making contributions to the Wikpedia entry on the Pygmy Hippopotamus, do ya?

6. “It accommodates the pourer’s thumb for stability and ease of pouring.”
– Okay, I have shoved my thumb up the punt on occasion. And I do say its useful if you are pouring across the table and need a little more reach. Maybe it’s me, but it also seems like snootier waiters prefer this method of pouring. It could be proper etiquette. I dunno, perhaps I should look up “etiquette” in Wikipedia.

7. “According to legend the punt was used by servants. They often knew more than their master about what was happening in town, and with a thumb up the punt they could show their master whether a guest was reliable or not.”
– Wow, that’s some crafty sign language! Perhaps you can use this technique at home to signal to your partner that it’s time to cut off an obnoxious guest.

8. “It provides a grip for riddling a bottle of sparkling wine manually in the traditional champagne production process.”
– I can’t attest to this. A punt makes sense for a champagne bottle for the extra strength the glass offers against its pressurized contents. But I haven’t seen a lot of riddling in my days. Sounds like I’m overdue for a trip to France!

9. “It simply takes up some of the volume of the bottle, giving the impression that you’re getting more wine for your money than is actually the case.”
– Okay, this sounds a little paranoid. But now that I think about it, it happens with cookie packaging all the time! Sure, they print the weight on the package but when you reach in you find a big tray of plastic with only a couple of cookies inside. This is dastardly. Likewise, I’ve been duped with heavy wine bottles too–Thinking there was more wine in the bottle (based on its weighted “feel”), I wept as only a few measly drops struggled into my glass.

10. “Taverns had a steel pin set vertically in the bar. The empty bottle would be thrust bottom-end down onto this pin, puncturing a hole in the top of the punt, guaranteeing the bottle could not be refilled.”
– This sounds like a legend. And why would a punt be needed for this? With no punt the pin could be shorter. I’m calling a foul here.

11. “The punt acts as a lens, refracting the light to make the color of the wine more appealing.”
– Okay, now we’re really reaching. There is a chance, I must admit, some clever marketer concocted this scheme. But facts are, light hurts wine. That’s why most bottles are green, brown or some other dark color. Even the clear bottles usually have some UV protection mixed in with the glass.

12. “Prevents the bottle from resonating as easily, decreasing the likelihood of shattering during transportation.”
– What! Why are musicians making Wiki entries about wine bottles?

13. “Allows bottles to be more easily stacked end to end.”
Oh sure, sometimes we stack single columns of wine bottles 10, even 20 high, right on top of one another. Okay, I apologize, my sarcasm is starting to get a little thick and could be scaring some folks. Perhaps if you put the bottles on there sides, they’ll nestle together better. Indeed, in our tasting bar it does allow the bottles to rest a litter deeper in the bins…Zzzzzzz.

14. “An indication of wine quality (the deeper the punt, the better the wine).”
– 14. Really? Fourteen reasons and none of them are for certain? I wonder how many encyclopedic entries are like this? “Sure we think the answer is in one of these 14 possibilities…you choose the right one for you!” But this is part of what makes wine fun. It’s an old, nay, ancient art and I’m glad wine is still shrouded in some mystery. At least it gives people like me a lot of leeway to tell a different story every time you ask a question! But I digress, wine quality is wine quality, it has nothing to do with the glass. However, bottles with punts cost more and wine makers do tend to use better quality glass on their better quality wines. They don’t stop there, though. Wine makers will use better corks, better capsules, and better labels for their high quality wines. It does happen on occasion, though, that an inferior wine is put into a beautiful wine bottle (probably in hopes of getting a better price from an unsuspecting public). Nothing is more disappointing, though. In this case, you’ve spent a lot money on a pretty package containing something pretty awful. And it cost you a lot more than some over-packaged cookies!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Anonymous January 10, 2010 at 1:59 pm

>Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!


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