Q & A
Do heavier bottles mean better wine?
Q I have no idea why, but if I buy a more expensive wine it usually tends to have a longer real cork, and the glass of the bottle is much heavier. Is this a cost thing or does it improve the wine?
A Yes, in the case of the cork, no in the case of the bottle which is very much for show but producers, it seems, know what they’re doing.
According to a recent study at Basel University our perception of wine depends on the cost of the bottle and heavier bottles, particularly ones with a deep punt (the hollow at the base) undoubtedly add to both the prestige and the price tag.
They’re not very eco-friendly though as they use more energy to make and and transport as this article by viticulturalist Dr Richard Smart on jancisrobinson.com points out. Jancis herself has campaigned against what she calls ‘bodybuilder bottles’ for years.
The more important thing is the colour of the bottle as darker bottles can protect wine from damaging light, a phenomenon known as ‘light strike’ or, rather more expressively in French, ‘gout de lumière’.
Good corks are quite a different matter though as cork taint - contamination by 2,4,6-trichloroanisole, or TCA as it’s more conveniently known, still bedevils the industry - one reason why so many producers have switched to screwcap*.
They may cost extra - easily double the cost of a standard cork - but if you’re keeping a wine for any length of time they’re worth it.
* the other being that screwcap is a more efficient seal which protects the freshness and flavour of whites in particular.
image by Andrew E Gardner at shutterstock.com
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