I got an email yesterday from Ian,  a friend (and ex-client) who also own a house here in France, further to the south-west from us, though unfortunately he isn’t based here permanently.  He asked an interesting question, one which had puzzled him for a while:  “Why do Bordeaux wine bottles traditionally have long thin necks and Burgundy wine bottles have short necks with more rounded shoulders?  Is it to reflect the physique of the local inhabitants?”

It’s true, of course (the bit about the bottles, not necessarily the suggested answer!).  Bordeaux wine bottles are recognisable through being taller and slimmer than their squat, round-shouldered Burgundy equivalents.  The only local answer I’ve been able to find is: “That’s just the way it is.  Always has been, always will be” (accompanied by a shrug of slim, angular shoulders).

A plausible answer found online is that, as Bordeaux wines, generally having been aged longer, contain a greater amount of sediment, the sharper shoulders of the bottle help trap it as the wine is poured and reduce the amount that finds its way into the glass.  But I prefer Ian’s answer.

I did dig up some other interesting (to me, at least) “bottle facts” during my research.  Did you know, for instance, that Bordeaux wine producers are gradually using darker and darker glass for their wine, as the potentially detrimental effects that bright light can have on the wine become better understood?  It’s also a reflection of the fact that more people are storing their wine in less dark places (e.g. the kitchen over a cellar).

Also, many Bordeaux wine producers won’t produce half-bottles of their wines, because they beleive that the air:wine ratio in a half bottle is too high and will, over time, damage the wine.  In fact, the ideal size for maturing wine is thought to be a magnum (1,5 litres) which is why, very often, you’ll pay more for a magnum than you will for two “standard” 75cl bottles (something which has puzzled me for a while).

You learn something new everyday.