Bottle Punt

By Gus Clemens

We all know punt is what a football team does when it fears it cannot make first down on fourth down, but what’s the deal with that dimple in bottom of a bottle (officially called a “punt” or a “kick up”)?

There are several explanations, all of which may be true at the same time.
•  Most persuasive: it is historic artifact from time when bottles were free blown by someone using a blowpipe and pontil. A punt is point where the pontil or punty attached and is diagnostic for freehand-blown glass objects.
•  Also persuasive: pushing in the center of the bottle base makes it more stable. A bottle with a flat bottom only requires a small imperfection to be wobbly. A circular rim footprint is more stable.
•  As any engineer will tell you, angles increase strength. The punt increases bottle strength, a significant consideration in sparkling wine, and an added benefit for rough handling of any bottle.
•  It makes riddling (the shaking and turning required every two days in making Champagne) easier by providing grip area. In same vein, it makes bottle easier for a sommelier to hold and pour.
•  Valley formed inside the bottle by a punt allows sediment to settle and stabilize. Not so important now with modern winemaking techniques, but a consideration back in the day.
•  It makes bottles easier to clean prior to filling with wine. Injected water hits the punt and swirls around the bottom.
•  It makes bottles appear bigger so buyers believe there is more wine inside. Maybe in olden days, but modern labeling laws pretty much rule out you being duped. A standard bottle contains 750 milliliters (or 25.360517 U.S. fluid ounces if you want precise number) no matter size of the punt.

Tasting notes:
•  Mulderbosch Sauvignon Blanc 2011. Clean, light; little grapefruit, citrus, white flowers, adequate acidity; nice but no wow; South Africa. $15
•   Franciscan Estate Merlot 2011. Restores your faith in merlot; dark fruits, balance, layers of mocha, leather; delicious, exquisite effort. $21
•  Michael David Earthquake Lodi Zinfandel 2012. Raspberry, cherry bomb; spice, pepper, forest floor; ripe, fruity, lush-mouth monster zin. $26

Last round: I discovered wine trapped in a bottle and immediately released it! Vino man wins again!

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