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The dimensions of a wine bottle

The sizes of wine bottles are often confusing. What is the typical shape of a bottle, what is the diameter of a wine bottle and what special shapes are there?

Overview of bottle sizes

The sizes, weights and dimensions of wine bottles are not standardized. Only the volume has been set at 0.75 l by an EU standard since 1977. In Switzerland, however, the usual volume of a wine bottle is 0.7 l, and the EU standard has not become established in the USA either. The following basic wine bottle shapes are common throughout the world:
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Bordeaux bottle

This type of bottle has a straight body which may be cylindrical or slightly conical. The neck is very short. Typical for this type of bottle are the shoulders below the neck. The Bordeaux bottle is considered to be the most stable shape for a wine bottle. The straight body also means that bottles can be easily stacked directly on top of one another. As with all wine bottles, there is an indentation in the base (known as a punt) of Bordeaux bottles which prevents sediments being stirred up when the wine is poured. As well as for Bordeaux, this type of bottle is also used for almost every other dry red wine too.

Burgundy bottle

This bottle originates in another famous French winegrowing region – Burgundy. A Burgundy-style bottle has no shoulder and the body tapers gradually into the neck. Its width and height are similar to a Bordeaux bottle. Burgundy-style bottles are usually used for more full-bodied white wines or soft, medium-sweet red wines. Champagne bottles are also usually this shape. However, the glass needs to be thicker in order to withstand the pressure of carbon dioxide.

Rhine bottle

Rhine bottles (also known as hock bottles) are tall and slender. Like Burgundy bottles, the body gradually tapers into the neck. However, the neck is longer and often also narrower. There are a wide variety of Rhine-style bottles so the diameter and the height of the bottles can vary quite considerably. As Rhine wines tend to be white, this type of bottle is used almost exclusively for white wines.

Diameter, height and weight of wine bottles

Apart from the standard volume of 0.75 l for wine bottles, there are very few specifications relating to their dimensions. Winemakers therefore have more or less a free hand when it comes to packaging their delectable wares. The bottle should match the character of the wine based on whether it is a light white wine or a full-bodied dark red one. Accordingly, longer and slimmer bottles with thin glass are used to accentuate the lightness of a wine. By contrast, a more stocky shape and thicker glass are often used to highlight the heft and strength of a wine while it's standing on store shelves.
The heights and diameters of wine bottles can therefore vary widely. Bordeaux and Burgundy wine bottles are between 78 and 90 mm wide approximately. The slimmer Rhine bottles on the other hand usually have a diameter of around 60 to 82 mm.
The height of wine bottles also varies widely. The two dimensions are interlinked. Slimmer bottles need to be taller to accommodate the same volume of 0.75 l. While Bordeaux and Burgundy bottles are usually somewhere between 300 and 320 mm, Rhine-style bottles are considerably taller – up to 375 mm.
Even with the same capacity of 0.75 l, the weight of a wine bottle can also vary. Most wine bottles weigh between 400 and 750 g, depending on the thickness of the glass and the size of the punt on the underside. Champagne bottles are always heavier because the glass is thicker. To arrive at the weight of a full bottle, the weight of the contents also has to be added. This is usually 750 g for a normal-sized bottle. On average, therefore, a full wine bottle will weigh around 1300 g.

Other wine bottle sizes

As well as the standard 0.75 l bottle, there are a number of other common sizes of wine bottle with different capacities. Most wine drinkers will be familiar with small wine bottles such as piccolos with 0.25 l capacity or the larger magnums and double magnums that hold 1.5 and 3 l respectively which are frequently used for Champagne or other sparkling wines. Magnum bottles are very popular with oenophiles as the higher volume and comparatively smaller amount of air in the bottle slows down the maturing process so the wine or sparkling wine can be kept for longer.
Extra-large sizes often have biblical names such as Jeroboam (4.5 l), Balthazar (12 l) and Goliath (18 l). Big bottles like these are usually used for laying down or for special events and marketing.