A post on Jancis Robinson’s, MW, Purple Pages brings up the question of heavy wine bottles. The wine pictured to the right is one of the worst offenders. To pour this at the restaurant, in order to ensure I was not going to drop it, I had to pick it up with two hands. Ha ha, guys said, that’s because you’re a girl. Ha ha, I’d joke, those Argentinians are so macho they need a big bottle.
But I had thought of this before, when one of the producers out here, Lieb Family Cellars, picked out the bottles for their wines, big heavy bottles. Not as bad as the Tikal, but bigger than the average bottle. Their salesman mentioned how much heavier they are to carry.
And to ship I thought. Why would Mark Lieb want to do that? It’s kind of like a four rail fence. Most of the time three rails will do, but four shows you’ve got the money to spend. Big bottles are expensive and show the producer’s got the scratch.
But the weight’s effect goes further than a salesman’s back. Here’s what Jancis had to say. In May she put up a post titled “Name and shame the heavy bottles.” This was an update of a 2006 post “Down with bodybuilder bottles,” in which she said:
Producers think that we will automatically assume that a wine is superior if it comes in a heavy bottle, preferably one with shoulders that slope out a bit like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s, no matter that they are much more awkward to handle on a bottling line than a perfect cylinder with parallel sides.
But if anyone thinks that a wine must be better because it comes packaged in a bottle that weighs as much as a telephone directory, then they are stupid. I’m sorry but it’s true. Here in the Britain we see all manner of ambitiously marketed wines, Languedoc reds retailing at well under £6 a bottle for example, being bottled in glass so thick and heavy that it’s actually quite an effort to lift the bottle to top up a glass. It is quite clear, simply by looking at the price tag, that there is no direct correlation between bottle weight and wine quality.
If wine producers were to collectively decide to be more sensible about their bottle choices, our world of wine could make a real impact on the amount of natural resources used up by manufacturing and transporting glass around the globe.