Customer Questions #3: Is a big punt a sign of a good wine?

A WINE BOTTLE’S PUNT is that indent at the base of the bottle, the size of which varies across wines. The perception among drinkers is that a bigger punt equals better juice. Is this the case?


Well, yes and no. A well-endowed bottle is not automatically better than a slighter fellow, and the punt doesn’t do anything to improve the liquid. But it is true to say that larger, deeper punts (they are sometimes called kick-ups) – do tend to be associated with more premium wines.

Originally an unavoidable result of making bottles by hand, punts don’t strictly speaking need to be there today. But there are some practical reasons why the bottling industry has kept them.

Punts: (1) make bottles less likely to fall over; (2) increase the strength of the bottle (which is why they are especially prominent in sparkling wines); (3) concentrate sediment in a ring and make it easier to avoid pouring it into your glass than if the bottle’s base were flat; and (4) provide a grip for the thumb and make bottles easier to pour.

But I think that one of their primary purposes is psychological trickery: a big punt means the bottle feels heavier, appears larger and looks generally more impressive. Consumers equate this added heft with “premium” and so are more inclined to pay extra. An expensive, high-end wine in a flat-bottomed bottle would look a fraud.

So in answer to the question, you will often find profound, majestic-looking punts in what are genuinely excellent wines. But be aware that there is probably a healthy dollop of consumer manipulation going on too.

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