Wine Bottles: The Big Break in Modern Wine Manufacturing Industry
Different varieties of wine derive their uniqueness from a number of factors, including their distinct flavors. If a person is given a particular brand of wine, it is probably because it is welcoming to their specific taste buds. Similarly, wine bottles are significant in the wine manufacturing industry, as they come in various shapes and sizes. While they help project the history and traditions associated with a particular brand of wine, they also ensure the quality is preserved.
Over the years, wine storage has evolved in conjunction with wine flavors. And the reasons are not far-fetched. During the early days of this booming industry, all the wineries realized that they could lose a lot of money if their wines were not well preserved. It is important to note that wines are not only sold within the regions they are produced, but they are imported globally. To satisfy their taste, the citizens of the world crave the taste of finely-brewed wines from many remote regions across the world. Hence, special attention must be paid to the storage and preservation of fine-quality wines. Consequently, the manufacturing of wine bottles gradually came into play.
Today, tremendous progress has been made in the bottle manufacturing industry, and wine is now preserved and shipped in bottles of various shapes and sizes. However, as implied, there were many other storage methods before this paradigm shift in technology. Therefore, to capture the essence of this article, it is imperative that we travel back in time to trace the origin of wine preservation.
The very first attempt at preserving wine can be credited to the Egyptians and Mesopotamians. Primarily, the clay flasks known as the Kvevri and Amphoras were adopted.
The Amphoras were more popular during that time. Upon close examination, one would realize the ceramic-styled storage shape. The design was for Amphoras to fit into ships, and the bottom was fashioned to be tapered. Consequently, it allowed for a longer period of storage. Moreover, the two handles also made it convenient to carry the Amphoras. The long slim neck preserved the wine from exposure to oxygen.
It was not long before Amphoras were accepted in the Mesopotamian and Mediterranean regions. In fact, historical records show that the use of this facility peaked in Ancient Greece and Rome.
The common practice was either the Kvevri or Amphora stamp vital details on the storage. These details included the Vineyard’s name, type of wine, wine vintage, and destination. However, the emergence of the Roman Empire spelled the decline of Kvevri and Amphoras.
The Romans have played a significant role in the history of wine preservation. As war enthusiasts, the Roman authorities were exploring different ways to expand their territories in Europe. They conquered various regions and dominated several cultures. However, there was a rising problem that required urgent attention. The troops thirsted for more wine. Thankfully, the Romans met the Gauls, who developed and utilized oak barrels to store their wine. The Romans immediately adopted this method. This innovation became increasingly popular, especially because it was easier to transport on land than in clay jars.
Despite the obvious advantages of wooden storage, it also had its disadvantages. For example, the oak barrels were not compact enough for prolonged preservation. As a result, there was constant exposure to oxygen, which resulted in poor wine flavors.
As time went on, the Romans explored other innovative ways than the wooden preservation method. Consequently, it occurred to them that they could store wine better in bottles. Therefore, a trial was conducted to test bottles, and the process was successful.
The Romans are applauded for coming up with the unique idea of developing a coal furnace to manufacture thick bottles. In the 17th century, a new era emerged. Glass blowing became a trend for many manufacturers. Nonetheless, it is interesting to investigate who exactly made the first wine bottle? Although there is no wholesome answer to this question, there is a wide consensus that Sir Kenelm Digby (11 July, 1603 – 11 June, 1665) was the father of the modern glass bottle.
While the era of glass bottles was still in its infancy, there was no accurate measurement for the bottles. Consequently, experimentations were the order of the day, and it took quite some time to arrive at the modern bottle.
Although the manufacturers differed in creating their own bottle shapes, they all had similar ideas. All glass bottles made during this period were dark, albeit strong. Furthermore, the bottoms were fat with short necks; later on, improvements flowed with the manufacturing process. The glass bottles now had evolved into long necks and slim bottoms.
Notwithstanding the wide acceptance of glass bottles, there were rancors all around. Wine lovers were whispering that they were not getting full value for their money. Moreover, the manufacturing process was flawed. For example, their major concerns were that there was no way that the hand-blown glasses would be of the same size. Variations would surely reflect.
Upon several complaints, selling wine in glass bottles was outlawed. Hence, customers were asked to bring their own containers, and they would request a particular quantity of wine. It would be weighed and poured into their containers.
There would soon be a ray of hope in the 19th century when “ideal bottle sizes” were agreed on. Ranging from 700ml, 750ml, and 800ml, manufacturers finally had developed standard options, and customers could make their choice. However, this is not to say that specials like magnum do not exist. The United States government, in 1979, mandated that all wine bottles must not be less or more than 750ml. Pursuant to this standardization, most European countries have applied the same rule to their countries. Therefore, business is smoother between manufacturers in the United States and the rest of the world.
To arrive at uniform-sized glass bottles, a famous British company called Rickets of Bristol applied to be patented for making identically-sized bottles in 1821. The company fulfilled all the requirements; thus, the owners acquired a patent to operate this unique machine at the time. Not long after Rickets of Bristol got the patent, the world started to develop modern bottle designs. In the present day, there are five unique glass bottle styles in the winemaking industry. For example, wine bottles may have the Bordeaux, Chianti, Champagne, Burgundy, or the Rhine shapes.
The world did not just wake up someday to using glass wine bottles. The journey of manufacturing these bottles has undeniably been an incredible one. More importantly, it was driven by the human quest for advancement and longing for innovation. For example, clay storage was initially thought to be the best until wooden barrels came into the picture. Similarly, glass wine bottles are no longer primarily hand-blown. The entire manufacturing process is now more automated and conducted on an industrial scale.
Due to the evolution of wine bottles, we have been ushered into an era of more reliable wine transportation.
On This Day
August 10, 1889 – the world’s first screwcap was patented in the United Kingdom to Dan Rylands of Barnsley. However, this idea did not materialize without any resistance, especially from the traditionalists.
Manufacturers now resort to screwcaps to avoid contaminating wine with the TCA fungi, considering the risks of using natural corks. For instance, over 90% of wine enclosures in New Zealand are products of screwcaps.
October 1, 1924 – The American President, who helped legislate and enforce the 750ml law for all wine bottles produced in the US, was born on this date. Jimmy Carter was the United States President from 1977 to 1981.