The oldest bottle of wine on record dates back to 325 A.D. Collectors of wine decor, bottles and accessories look for specific types, colours and shapes to add to their collections. Searching for glass bottles is a treasure hunt. Understanding the evolution of the wine bottle will help you recognise and unearth vintage pieces when searching through flea markets, antique malls and garage sales.
- Skill level:
Look for handmade bottles. The three main bottle types are handmade, handblown moulded, and industrial. Handmade are the oldest. Handmade bottles vary in size and shape, which makes them unique and highly collectable.
Know the basic bottle shapes. Three main bottle shapes exist today: The Bordeaux bottle is the typical high shouldered bottle for Cabernet and Merlot. The Burgundy bottle is a slope shouldered bottle for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The Hoch bottle is a German bottle used for Riesling and Gewurztraminer. Recognising bottle shapes can help identify their original contents and age.
Recognise changes in glass colour. Wine bottle colour is an important indication of age of a piece. Glass colour has lightened over time and so a darker glass indicates age.
Look for stencils. The oldest bottles have no label, but may be stencilled. Bottles with front labels only also indicate age. Pieces with additional information such as paper tags or revenue stamps on the label are more valuable. Original corks also add value to the bottles.
Take note of the region. Northern California, Washington and New York state are great regions for bottle hunting, since they are the top wine producing regions in the US.
How to identify vintage wine bottles
Tips and warnings
- The indentation on the bottom of the bottle is called a punt. Punts were used in older pieces for strength and stability. The punt is no longer necessary for the integrity of a bottle, and is used only as an indication of quality. Examine the punt and look for handmade bottles with rod marks. This is one indication of age.
- Filled wine bottles can only be purchased by adults 21 and over and cannot be purchased via the Internet.
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