Sexy Bottles Of Wine- Market Monday

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Wine Bottles Through History

History and research tell us during the late Roman century glass had become an art. Wine was also not far away in the caves fermenting. So why did it take so long before the two found each other?

Back in the days of Mesopotamia and Egyptian wine making, the wine makers saved their wares in amphorae – clay flasks. These were stamped with the vineyard’s name, the vintage of the wine, type of wine, and so on. This went on for thousands of years, through the Grecian days of wine trade, until the Romans grew to power.

The Romans had a hand in the development of glass blowing. They themselves started as conquerors, and as cultures began to meld into theirs, many of the artisans developed crafts that became associated with the state during that era.

Glass was quickly found to be a good medium for storing liquids and wine – it did not affect the wine’s flavor, you could easily see what wine was inside the bottle, and so on. The trouble was with the method of manufacture. Glass at the time was hand blown, and bottles therefore varied wildly in size. Consumers never knew exactly how much wine they were getting.

For a while, wine was illegal to sell in bottles because of this problem. Instead, consumers would bring in their own containers, and a measured amount of wine would be put into that container. Think of it as buying meat at a meat counter – you watch it get weighed and measured, and then you take it home in your own bag.

Bottles for containing, distributing, or dispensing wine were common in the U. S. from the mid 17th century to the present day. The earliest wine and spirits bottles in the American colonies were typically English made imports as no significant production of these type bottles was likely done on American soil until the late 18th century (McKearin & Wilson 1978).

Wine being one of the most common beverages of the past 300-400 years (next to water and possibly beer/ale) results in wine bottles and fragments being one of the most commonly encountered items on historic sites. The exception to this is during National Prohibition in the U.S. (1919 to 1933) when the production and consumption of alcoholic beverages was illegal, though of course, some production and use was still occurring either illegally or for “medicinal purposes.”

Eventually around 1970’s the United States began to regulate the size and amount of the bottles in order to assimilate into the metric system, thus creating the 750ml bottle. This stuck and we have continued its use; outside of half bottles and the freedom of wineries to change shape, color, and packaging over time.

Why are bottles of wine sexy? The thought of glass (which glass is beautiful), and its contents combined are what make it sexy. I think of it related to the search of that perfect partner in life- the combination of outside and the inside are what attracts us. Once we taste its contents, we either decide to continue to enjoy it on a regular basis, or go after another bottle. I found my perfect match, and we have continued to enjoy great wines together since.

Remember, once a bottle is opened and is allowed to breathe over time, you may find you like it more and more down the road. So do not give up- if the glass makers had, we would never have all the beautiful glassware to collect and admire!

Chef Elizabeth Stelling collects early 19th century wine bottles and stemware and you can read more on her food and wine adventures- Food ~ Wine ~ Fun!

  1. NUTS!I did a really long reply to your post but my internet crapped out and I lost it all! Oh well, just wanted to tell you that it was a great post! Nicely done!

  2. Thanks for this post! Though, I had a difficult time viewing this article in Internet Explorer 8. Just wanted to bring that to your attention! Thanks.

  1. June 29th, 2010

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