Vol. 1, No. 8, March 8, 1999
© Copyright 1999 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.
Wine trivia: What (and why) is a Punt?
Pick up a wine bottle sometime and take a close look at the bottom. Chances are (unless you've chosen a particularly inexpensive wine) that you'll find a deep, conical indentation rather than a flat surface.
This dent is called a "punt" in English (just like the kick on fourth down in American football). An obscure word, unknown even to many wine enthusiasts, its origins are lost in history. But here are a few theories:
1. In the early days of modern bottle making, glass blowers learned that a deep indentation made the bottle sturdier.
2. Or, a somewhat similar explanation, the mechanism that glass blowers used to hold the bottle while it was being made left this indentation when the job was done.
3. Bottles were made this way intentionally so the sharp crease around the conical shape would form a crevice where the wine's sediment could collect and solidify.
4. Finally, if you're a cynic, you may suspect that the indentation serves the same purpose as the cardboard packaging inside a candy bar wrapper: It makes the bottle look like it has more wine in it than it really does!
Take your pick; I don't think anyone knows the answer with absolute certainty. And if you've got another theory -- or, better still, a factual or historical reference point, please let me know!
Chateau Vieux Robin 1995 Cru Bourgeois Médoc ($14.99)
FOOD MATCH: Just right with the traditional Bordeaux match: Lamb chops.
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