Wine containers and stoppers

Wine has traditionally come in a variety of shapes and sizes of containers, many of them now redundant..
Capacity (litres)Number of bottlesName
3 4 Jeroboam

Currently, the normal wine bottle is 75cl. Vineyards in England and Wales use a variety of colours brown, green or white, depending on wine type and vineyard preference. It is possible to tell high quality wine by the thickness of the bottle, and often by the presence of a ‘dimple’ in the bottle base. Not everyone uses the same shape of bottle. Denbies favour the squat looking Burgundy bottle with the tapering neck. Most other vineyards use the standard bottle, the Bordeaux style with a short narrow neck broadening suddenly to a straight body or the Alsace flute shape which narrows from just over half way up, before straightening out into the neck. A few vineyards have started to produce 50cl bottles. Sedlescombe have a narrow bottle which can make a very good candle holder when empty. The Welsh vineyards, Cwm Deri and Sugar Loaf also make use of 50cl. bottles. The bottle is the main outward sign of the quality of the product. In many production areas, bottle shape is standardised. However Britain has no regulations and no consistent pattern has yet emerged. One method that has not been used is the Litre cardboard container, favoured for cheaper wines in bulk. Very cheap wine is sold in some countries on a ‘bring your own empty bottle’ basis so far this has not caught on in Britain.

Corks and top fittings

There has long been a debate about the method of stoppering the bottles. Most use the traditional cork, produced from the cork oak largely produced in Portugal. These vary in quality, from the Grade 1 corks covered with a wax finish and costing around 105 pounds Sterling per 1000, to the very cheap agglomerate ones at 25 pounds per 1000 . In all cases the corks are bleached with chlorine before being sold a treatment that can on occasions lead to the formation of Trichloranisole which provides the corked taste in an occasional bottle. Corks vary in length between 45mm and 38mm, with the longer ones being used on higher quality wines

Vineyards in Britain traditionally identify themselves by means of their registration number on their cork. Thus W1543 on Thames Valley corks identified the producing vineyard. This same number would be put in the corks of any wines made for another vineyard by Thames Valley. Some vineyards prefer to put their name on the cork.

A number of vineyards are becoming dis-satisfied with the quality of corks and are turning to plastic corks (popular in Australia), or , in the case of Cwm Deri, with German screw caps. The latter result in a bottle that does not need to be stored on its side in order to keep the cork moist. Currently there is a serious debate going on in the world of wine about bottles and stoppers. What is your opinion on the matter?

So how much does a bottle of wine cost

The UKVA have estimated that at 2000 prices, a bottle of wine priced at 549 pence includes the following costs:
Tax (including VAT)194
Cost of bottle14
Cost of growing grapes67
Retail mark-up117
The lack of interest at government level in the UK wine industry (Mrs. Thatcher was a good supporter and therefore an exception) means that UK wine is classed with imported wine for tax purposes. If you want to buy English wine more cheaply, find somewhere in France that sells it and save the tax. along with that of other nationalities for tax purposes
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