Punt Wine Bottle IndentationThe "punt" of a bottle is the indentation at the base of the bottle. In the old days, when wine bottles were each made by hand, it's very likely that the punt was a result of the glassmaking process - but of course experienced glassmakers would have been able to "fix" this before the bottle was done, and flatted out the punt. Why didn't they? There are a variety of theories about why finished bottles had punts. It's important to note that nobody knows for sure :) The explanations below are argued about endlessly at wine events.
For Champagne and sparkling wine, the indention helps to give structural integrity to the bottle, which has to be pretty strong to hold in the pressure of the bubbly wine. Also, it helps the bottles stack if you are putting them one on top of the other during the second fermentation stage.
In the below image of a bottle from the 1800s, you can see the punt of the bottle poking up into the interior.
For non-Champange bottles, there isn't the same need for structural integrity, and bottles are generally not stacked end to end. Why did they have a punt, then? Here are some theories. With a large punt you can make the bottle larger and still have it hold the same amount of wine - impressing the purchaser. A punt helps make the bottle easy to hold. Some claim that a bottle with a punt rests more easily on a table, because with a flat-bottomed bottle it would rock around based on any lumps or bumps in the table. With the ring of the punt being the only surface contact, it helps the bottle sit more flat.
In modern times, bottles are not hand made. They are made in molds. So they could easily be made without punts! Most white wine bottles are in fact made with flat or mostly flat bottoms. However, for historical reasons, most red wine bottles are made with punts. That's because one theory of punts is that the punt helps to collect sediment into a thicker ring, so that it does not as easily slide out into the glass.
So in general, punts are "historic relics". It's like asking why we stick tree bark into a bottle to seal it. It's tradition!
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