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Do wine bottles have a standard neck size?

Tonight I opened a new (to me) brand of wine (Geno Auriemma Chianti to be exact, and not bad!) and when the cork broke on opening, I attempted to insert an old cork I had around and found it didn't fit. Upon closer measurement it was about 1mm smaller in diameter, as was the bottleneck inner diameter when compared to another brand.

Up to now, I had always assumed all bottlenecks (and accompanying corks) were equal. I guess this is one area the standard setters haven't gotten around to.

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  1. Don,

    Unfortunately, wine bottle neck sizes, rather like cork lengths, and even bottle shapes, differ.

    Personally, I would love to see most wines in a "standard" Bdx. bottle, but that is not likely to happen. I spent 30 mins. arguing with Larry Turley on wine bottle shapes, and we never did agree - but we did take a break, to just drink!

    Even with wines, like Ports, I keep a half-dozen different T-stoppers (Tawnies, and similar), I also have a bazillion (OK, maybe only a gazillion) corks, from various wine bottles, so always have something to fit into the neck. However, I usually seal with a Vac-u-vin, or similar stopper, and for Italian wines, find that I need to really compress those by that 1 mm. that you mention. With a bit of dampness on the stopper, they usually insert fine.

    Some REALLY <general> observations:

    Italian corks are smaller, but longer.
    French corks are a bit larger, but usually shorter than IT corks.
    US corks vary on length, but are usually the same (or very similar) diameter, as FR corks.

    Good luck,

    Hunt

    31 Replies
    1. re: Bill Hunt

      "Personally, I would love to see most wines in a "standard" Bdx. bottle"

      Why a Bdx. bottle?

      1. re: Chinon00

        "Why a Bdx. bottle?"

        Because the parallel, straight sides make cellar storage much easier.

        Hunt

        1. re: Bill Hunt

          I'd imagine you'd wanna make an exception for Champagne bottles?;]

          1. re: Chinon00

            Oh, I have many spaces for them, plus several sizes of "large format" bottles, but then when those get filled with a Chard in a giant-based bottle, I sort of wish that I had decided to buy Sauvignon Blanc, instead... [Grin]

            Hunt

            1. re: Bill Hunt

              I mean you'd like all bottles other than Champagne bottles to be Bdx style?

              1. re: Chinon00

                In a perfect, "cellar world," yes.

                Now, that would be heresy in Burgundy, but the storage would be much more simple.

                Think about the engineering for a moment - long, straight sides make storage much better. Burg (and most "common" PN & Chard) bottles do not balance well, upon similar. Throw in some of the really odd Burg-type bottles, and it gets dangerous for one's wine.

                Now, if I had unlimited funds, and was building a new home, my cellar would have about 10K btls. of individual storage, that could also hold sparklers, but with enough support to accommodate Bdx. bts., without their falling through. I would then have myriad areas for large format bottles.

                As it is, I can only hold about 3000 Bdx (and many Burg-type bottles) individually, plus those Bdx. wooden boxes, that Jason mentions, plus a few non-styro cases in cardboard, and then the sparklers and large formats in much smaller quantities. I do not have any "X," or "diamond" areas, but then those lend themselves to Bdx. styled btls.

                In my collection, I have far too many wide based Burg-type btls., that will not fit in my slightly over-sized Bdx. slots. They often end up in their shipping case, on the floor, as they do not fit into "normal" slots. Were it not for the fact that I love most of the wines in "those" bottles, I would not choose them. That is why I share a few glasses with Larry Turley, and always complain about his choice of bottles.

                Nah, I only wish that I DID live in a perfect world, had the $ to build what I dream of, and then it would not be an issue. I see where I missed things a bit, by choosing a slightly over-sized Bdx. configuration, but I only had 1000 cu. ft. of space, with existing walls defining the size of the slots, and had to work with what the original architect provided me with (minus the super-insulation). When I hit Powerball, things WILL change! [Grin]

                Hunt

            2. re: Chinon00

              One would (probably) HAVE to make an exception for sparkling wines, just in terms of surface area-to-internal pressure.

              1. re: zin1953

                Hi, Jason:

                Well, you'd *have* to in terms of storing bubbles already bottled in Champagne glass, but IME the bottlemaker's and glass arts have largely obviated the need for the punt and neck taper in finished wines.

                I regularly charge my sparklers and cider with gram-equivalents of sugar yielding final pressures toward the upper end of the Champage range. For the ciders especially (and the sparkling wines I keep for cooking and cocktails), I've found that 22 oz. beer glass works great for secondary fermentations, and I've never had an exploded bottle, even when the cider is pot-gun. I know the Champs are rated to 25 Atmos and the beers aren't, but hey...

                I started doing this one day when I ran out of Champagne glass before the end of a run. I was crown-capping anyway at that stage, and so I tested the remaining few cases with beers (bunkering them a good long while to see!).

                I'm with Hunt about the dangers of X-binning tapered bottles, and have discarded a pallet of bargain Hock glass as a result. The wine *and* the rats can suffer. And someone *will* succumb to the temptation to try to stack the tapered glass 69, and that way lies madness...

                Cheers,
                Kaleo

                1. re: kaleokahu

                  Just came across this post searching for a solution for my fat bottles. Decided to line my diamond bins with 4" poster tubes and now I can put whatever I want in there, from syrah bottles to dessert wine. Thought I'd share.

            3. re: Bill Hunt

              And wooden Bdx boxes are SO much easier to find than wooden Burgundy boxes . . .

              1. re: zin1953

                They ARE, and I use them for some of my "slots," even after the original wines are gone.

                Now, I am not talking about DRC's here, but most recent Burg purchases have come in cardboard w/ pressed cardboard inserts.

                Hunt

                1. re: Bill Hunt

                  In the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, all my wines were stored underground in wooden boxes (Bordeaux, Burgundy, or Porto boxes w/straw wrappers/sleeves). Out of some 70-75 cases, I lost two bottles -- both were standing up.

                  OTOH, my best friend had built all sorts of racking -- individual slots, diamond bins, etc., etc. He lost close to 20% of his 200+ cases.

                  Since then, I've kept ALL my wines in boxes -- wood, if and when possible, but you're right: Burgundy wood is difficult to find.

          2. re: Bill Hunt

            Hunt,

            I recall a major discussion, on another board about Pax having trouble keeping customers because they used a wide-bottom, Pinot-style bottle for all their wines. As you know, anyone with a standard refrigerated storage unit, and many cellar owners, has a limited number of spaces for that size bottle. My unit holds 220 bottles, but only has spaces large enough for about 50 of that size.

            My daughter, who's in the marketing end of the wine biz, tells me there really is something to perceived quality in the type, weight, and shape of wine bottles........ especially at higher price points. Bdx bottles for everything would be nice.

            1. re: Midlife

              When I built my cellar years ago, I tried to accommodate most "standard" bottle sizes, but found that with many, I had to give up individual bottle racking, or only put a few into spaces, that would hold many more Bdx. bottles.

              They might look "neat" in a wine shop, but can be a nightmare to store in all but the largest custom cellars.

              Now, and going OT here, I also hate "foil" labels on wine bottles. Again, they look cool, and probably win design awards, but in a darkened restaurant, it's almost impossible to read them clearly and effectively, especially when getting down to the "fine print" of a single vineyard. Even with a bright flashlight, one has to rotate the bottle - foil needs a broad light source to read effectively, as it's not about the brightness of the light, but the broadness of the light source.

              OK, off my soapbox!

              Hunt

              1. re: Midlife

                >>> My daughter, who's in the marketing end of the wine biz, tells me there really is something to perceived quality in the type, weight, and shape of wine bottles.... <<<

                This is true, BUT (probably, primarily) only among the masses. The people who actually buy those wines -- especially those in "Pax-type" bottles -- and *attempt* to put them into their custom-built wine racks and/or expensive home refrigerated storage units HATE them suckers!

                It's actually a matter of degrees. I agree with your daughter in general terms. When the Chianti producers began to use fancier, heavier glass on the better wines (I'm not talking about the straw-covered fiasco-type bottles; think super Tuscan versus "traditional" brown glass bordeaux-shaped Chianti Classico), I thought that was a good move. But bottles like Turley and Pax drive me crazy! I hate them . . . it's like those old Travaglini Gattinara bottles, or the ones used by Château de la Gardine Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Try cellaring those!!!

                As with many things, a little design change can be good. Taking it to extremes, OTOH . . .

                Cheers,
                Jason

                1. re: zin1953

                  I'm just confused that if you can accommodate Champagne bottles in your custom wine racks or expensive home refrigerated units why are these other bottles a problem; or are Champagne bottles equally a nuisance?

                  1. re: Chinon00

                    Because a) they are often BIGGER, WIDER, and HEAVIER than mere Champagne bottles -- think of how a bottle of Dom Pérignon is wider than a "regular" bottle of Moët & Chandon Brut, for example; and b) depending upon one's racking/storage unit(s), "regular" Champagne bottles may be "equally a nuisance."

                    Not to me, mind you, but I don't have custom racking or storage units . . . .

                    Cheers,
                    Jason

                    1. re: zin1953

                      Anybody who's buying Dom Perignon can afford to deal with it, in my opinion. Those want the most efficient storage for their wine collection shouls consider buying wine in a box.

                      1. re: GH1618

                        So, snarkey pants.....Do wooden boxes count? LOL

                        :)

                        1. re: GH1618

                          (Rather misses the point, doesn't it?)

                      2. re: Chinon00

                        My standard racks and wine fridge accommodates BDX only for a straight shot rack of "side by side". I have to store Burgs either on the top rack or on a regular rack with a 375 in between so they fit. It looks works okay, but it still feels like a bit of a waste of space because the 375's could be stored in a much smaller space.

                        Typical storage for larger quantities of Champagne, Porto, Tokaj, Cognac, or large format wines, etc is Diamond Bin storage because they won't fit on the regular rack. The down side is that the bins are REALLY heavy and if you store more than 4 or 5 bottles, you have to rearrange them so much to get to the one you want (and it always seems to be the bottom one you want).

                        You would think someone would come up with something better!

                    2. re: Midlife

                      Midlife,

                      As an aside, I encounter some Bdx-style btls, that are overly large, just as I encounter many, that are overly heavy (even when empty). There are also some variations, where the bottle sides taper. Usually, that taper is much less of a problem, than say a Turley Zin bottle, that will never stack safely.

                      Fortunately, we have little seismic activity in AZ, so "balance" is less of a concern, than in say California. Still, I hate to have my wine sitting on only about 1/4 of the length of those bottles. I know that I will now jinx myself, but to date, I have not lost a bottle, but then spend much time stacking, even when it means that I am using far less of an area, than I had planned.

                      I understand how/why some winery owners gravitate toward other bottle style - individuality, and something to focus on, past even very good to great wines. Still, for the consumer, they can make life tough, indeed.

                      Hunt

                    3. re: Bill Hunt

                      Yes, well, as much as I like Larry (of course I love his wife, Suzanne, but that's another story altogether; I've known her longer), his wine bottles have always irritated me. Then again, so do many of his wines . . .

                      Her wines, OTOH . . . ;^) What can I say?

                      Cheers,
                      Jason

                      1. re: zin1953

                        The entire family (at least those members, who I have met) is high on my list.

                        I have fewer issues with his wines, than I have with his bottles, and even his labels in a dark restaurant. However, we have discussed some of his (and some others') wines, and especially the Zins. Will try not to get too far OT, but I like the majority, that I have had the pleasure of tasting.

                        I cannot recall tasting any of Suzanne's wines, but Larry did pop the cork on an early Helen Turley SB, that was a tad "over the hill," at least the bottles that we tasted - still a good "footnote," and I appreciated the opportunity to use the "way-back machine."

                        Hunt

                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                          Suzanne (née Chambers) runs the import/wholesale company founded by her father and herself -- Chambers & Chambers. See http://www.chamberswines.com/ I think you'll be impressed with the portfolio.

                          Cheers,
                          Jason

                          1. re: zin1953

                            Thank you. No mention was ever made.

                            Appreciated,

                            Hunt

                      2. re: Bill Hunt

                        "I spent 30 mins. arguing with Larry Turley on wine bottle shapes, and we never did agree.."

                        What was his argument on the issue?

                        1. re: Chinon00

                          In that case, it was his choice of lovely, but difficult to stack, wide bottom Burg-style bottles.

                          Next discussion was on the use of beautiful foil on labels, especially when presented in a darkened restaurant.

                          Obviously (by last purchase) he vetoed all of MY suggestions... [Grin]

                          Hunt

                            1. re: Chinon00

                              Yes. I come from the R. B. Fuller school of design, where form must follow function, but that is just me. I love great design, but if things do not work, all the awards on Earth do not make things right.

                              When I used to walk into design/concept meetings, and an art director would start talking about "awards," I would turn my back on the project, and walk away. Now, if they talked about selling the client's product/service, I was all ears. Awards could come later, if we all did a spectacular job. Probably considered very "old-school" nowadays.

                              Hunt

                        2. re: Bill Hunt

                          if Geno was half as daring as his kids on a fast break or pick and roll, he'd have gone with a twist off cap. Hey man,
                          it'd save about 3 to 5% in lost corked wines.

                        3. Hi - Cork sizes vary widely. Most are punched (cut from the bark) at a diameter between 22 and 26 mm. Lengths vary even more-- typically between 33 and 54 mm. The length and width need to be the right ratio for that particular bottle in order to assure the best seal.

                          Even after a cork is punched, pressure and moisture affect its size significantly. So, a cork you've kept in a drawer for six months might no longer fit the same bottle well-- it may have shrunk too much. You're better off resealing with a wider cork that you have to work hard to insert.

                          Also, related tidbit- corks typically surpass the bottleneck by 6 cm prior to insertion. They're then compressed up to 33% in order to insert them. This creates the best seal (compressing a cork more will damage its cell structure and compromise the seal.)

                          1. Oops, meant to type "6 mm" not "cm". (Now that would be a very tightly fitted cork.)

                            1. The smaller necks on some bottles wouldn't be such a problem if stoppers were readily available in various sizes. I bought a stopper I liked recently, and I can't use it for the wine I most often have on hand. Having two, or even three, sizes of stoppers would not be a burden.

                              Even though I have been inconvenienced by the variance in bottle dimensions, I can't imagine forcing a standard bottle on vintners merely for the convenience of consumers.

                              1. oh lawdy, hunt, i was laughing out loud here:

                                ""Italian corks are smaller, but longer.
                                French corks are a bit larger, but usually shorter than IT corks.
                                US corks vary on length, but are usually the same (or very similar) diameter, as FR corks."

                                my mind….veers…..

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: alkapal

                                  Interesting take on corkage, pal...! Any opinion on "corkage fees"?

                                  1. re: Veggo

                                    illegal in all states except nevada.

                                  2. re: alkapal

                                    Yes, after I typed those words, I saw the possibility to go elsewhere. Leave it to you to GO THERE! [Grin]

                                    Hopefully, others will concentrate, concentrate, concentrate and pick up on the intended meanings... or maybe not?

                                    Hunt

                                  3. I tremble at the thought of meeting the individual that can get a champagne cork reseated without mechanical assistance. 8 feet high with fingers like sausages?

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                      No one does. This is why god invented "champagne stoppers" . . . .

                                      1. re: zin1953

                                        it''s really a shame that god invented cork screws. they belong in the museum next to the buggy whips.

                                        1. re: jock

                                          Actually, I'm quite happy with my corkscrews . . . and my screwcaps.

                                          1. re: jock

                                            Jock,

                                            Here we will tend to disagree. Now, I am much older, and tend to be a "purist," but I will be loath to part with my various cork removal tools.

                                            That said, I just had a very bad spate of corked bottles, and from various countries, regions and producers. I am starting to embrace Stelvin (or similar) even more - but I still hold out hopes...

                                            BTW - what is/are the official name(s) for the glass stoppers, with an enclosing capsule? I recently had several wines, under such closures, but could find no logos, or names on any part. Not to go OT, but just curious.

                                            Hunt

                                          2. re: zin1953

                                            Yes! I travel with at least one in every suitcase (or nearly so, as wife has as many suitcases, as she has shoes!).

                                            Even with that said, we do not have that much use for them, as there are not that many sparklers, that make it until the next dawn.

                                            Hunt

                                            PS - just had a Sullivan (Napa) Merlot, and had to lubricate (Alkapal, do not even go there), the Vac-u-vin stopper, and rather stuff it into the neck. Had never noticed that with the Sullivans before?

                                        2. I'm amazed at the information this simple question elicited. Thanks, all ! By the way, my problem is now moot since I got a vacuum bottle sealer for Christmas, and put it to immediate use at dinner time !

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: DonShirer

                                            Don,

                                            If a Vac-u-vin, or similar, you should be doing fine. You might have to wet the stopper a bit, and do some nifty hand-work, to insert it into some necks, but all should be good.

                                            Just did some Ports, and was surprised at the different neck diameters, for some pretty "regular" T-stoppers. I had to do a bit of "hunt and try," to get just the right ones, and these were ALL Tawny Ports! Had never realized that within that small sub-set, there would be so many different sizes.

                                            Enjoy,

                                            Hunt

                                          2. Most Italian bottles have a narrower bore. If you try to open one of those bottles with a two-pronged Ah-So or knockoff, it will crack the neck. I've seen people returning such broken bottles to wine shops many times.

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                              I have not encountered such damage, but then travel with several different opening devices.

                                              With many IT bottles, the length of the cork, plus the bore, can cause some issues.

                                              Hunt

                                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                I've never had that problem, either -- both from a personal standpoint and from a retailer / wholesaler point-of-view.

                                                1. re: zin1953

                                                  Any bottle with a "C" dimension (neck opening) narrower than the width of an Ah-So, which includes most of the inexpensive Italian wines in my cellar, will crack if you push the Ah-So all the way down.

                                                  I'll try to remember to post a YouTube video demonstrating that after I drink the next such bottle.

                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                    I will keep that in mind, though I have not encountered it - yet!

                                                    Thank you,

                                                    Hunt