Saturday, July 11, 2015

Hey Bar Bartenders – Why the Punt?

Not long ago I visited Bayfield, Wisconsin a charming town on the shores of Lake Superior. On the plane flight up I read a magazine article regarding a gallop poll which shared insights into the alcohol consumption patterns of Americans. Though beer is by far America’s favorite adult beverage (39% of Americans say they only drink beer), wine is now gaining popularity; 35 percent of Americans now say they prefer wine.

While strolling through Bayfield I came upon a small liquor store and walked in. It had an extensive inventory of beverages, especially wines. Many of the wines were brands which I knew, while others were foreign wines. What caught my eye was the large variety of local wines.

Not a big wine drinker I found myself picking up unfamiliar bottles and reading their labels. While holding the bottles I noticed some had deep indentations in their bases while others had flat bottoms. When I asked the sales clerk why this was she admitted she did not know. When I returned home I talked to several wine distributors I know and was surprised to learn some interesting trivia about wine bottles which I think every bartender and wait staff member should know.

When you have a chance look at the bottom of the wine bottles in your bar’s inventory. More than likely you will see many bottles have deep indentations in their bottoms. This inward dimple is officially called “The Punt” by Europeans; Americans generally refer to it as the kick-up. From what I learned there is no single reason for this unique feature however I have to admit the reasons people shared with me were both bizarre and fascinating. Below is a list of the ten most common explanations people provided as to why wine bottles have “punts”?

1) Punts are carryovers from when wine bottles were actually hand blown. Glass blowers always pushed in the bottom of the bottle to ensure that when they removed their blow pipes the bottle bottom was in meaning the bottle would sit flat ant not scratch a table’s surface.

2) Punts make wine bottles less tipsy. Its true! A flat bottom wine bottle only needs only a slight nudge to be unstable – however a punt provides stability should the bottle be accidentally bumped by a person sitting at the dinner table.

3) Punts help consolidate any sediment in the bottom of the bottle and prevents it from being poured out into a glass. {Years ago vintners [wine makers] had problems with sediment, however modern vintners now use filters and there is very little sediment ever in wine today}.

4) Punts increase the strength of the bottle, allowing it to easily hold the high pressure of sparkling wines and champagnes as well as control CO2 discharges when some wines continue to ferment in the bottle.

5) Punts takes up room in the bottle which allows a bottle to appear larger, yet hold a lesser amount of wine. (This is an idiotic reason but people - cynical people mostly - believe it).

6) Punts help prevent wine bottles from shattering should they fall off a table and onto the floor.   Its true - its an engineering thing.

7) My favorite.  Prior to the invention of cardboard and wooden boxes wine bottles were typically laid on their sides in the cargo holds of sailing ships. The punts allowed one bottle’s neck to fit nicely in the base of another bottle, thus punts prevented the wine bottles from rolling around below deck and more bottles could be stacked row upon row.

8) Punts provide a convenient place for a Sommelier’s {a fancy term for an upscale wine server} thumb.  The punt allegedly makes allows the server to accurately pour wine.

9) Punts make it easier for vintners to clean wine bottles prior to filling them. When a stream of hot water is injected into a bottle it will hit the punt and be deflected back throughout the entire bottle evenly and which cleans the bottles quicker.

10) Finally, true connoisseurs of wine will always insist “Punts just make wine taste better”.

Well there you have Eba G.’s reasons for punts in wine bottles. Next time your in a liquor store check out the punts on wine bottles.  Once you do I highly recommend you share this knowledge with your customers - believe me you will sell more wine. Visit for more great bar ideas or just email me - Eba G. - at