Jim is part of the Majestic Dorchester team creating an A to Z of wine. Catch up with them here on the letter P…
The ‘punt’ is the indentation in the bottom of the wine bottle. An insignificant detail, you may think. However, it has proven to be a useful (if not vital) feature:
A few myths have developed around this feature, one of the most common being that the deeper the punt, the better the quality of wine. Although it is more costly to use bottles with deep punts and so it is most likely that the wine will be of good to exceptional quality, this is not always the case. Conversely, one of the most famous Champagnes in the world, Cristal, does not have a punt at all – the bottom is completely flat.
In 1876 Tsar Alexander II of Russia who first commissioned the Champagne for his court was (justifiably) concerned that he would be poisoned. The famous punt-less clear glass that Cristal is packaged in was designed specifically to enable detection of any poison in the Tsar’s drinks!
Most other Champagnes have deeper than average punts because part of the winemaking process requires bottles to be inverted for a short period of time to allow dead yeast cells to collect in the neck ready for expulsion. Deep punts enable the bottles to be stacked on top of each other nose to tail, tucking into the punt of the bottle below. An efficient use of space…
A further feature is that the punt helps to strengthen the glass at what would be its weakest point – so don’t go dropping any bottles of Cristal you have lying around!
The final use of the punt is a very useful purchase for the thumb when pouring, a trick many a sommelier will utilise!