Besides a long, elegant neck, a corked (or screw-capped) top, and an eye-catching label, what else do you spot on a wine bottle? Hint: check the bottom of your bottle. If you answered a “dimple,” then you just singled out one of the most mysterious features of the wine bottle, the punt.
There have been numerous reasons offered explaining how the use of punts came about. In fact, there’s no clear consensus as to why the punt is there, but there are plenty of fascinating theories.
Out of all the theories (some of them bizarre) we singled out the nine that seem most plausible to us.
1. The Punt Makes It Easier To Hold A Wine Bottle.
A punt makes it easier to hold a wine bottle – as well as pour from it – with one hand: If you grab your wine bottle from the bottom, it’s no surprise that the punt is present, acting as a spot to place your thumb while the rest of your fingers grab the base of the bottle. It is to aid with the pouring of the wine when being served at a table for the enjoyment of your guests. It allows for service to occur at arm's length in order to minimize disturbance.
2. The Punt Allows the Bottle to Stand Upright
It makes the bottle more stable on an uneven surface. It is true that a bottle with a punt is more stable than a flat bottomed bottle on a rough surface.
3. Punts Create an Optical Illusion That a Wine Bottle Is Bigger Than It Actually Is
Need we say more? If you’re comparing two 750 ml bottles, and one looks like it’s holding more juice, your eyes can often deceive your logic.
4. Punts Catch Sediment
The angle of a punt allows sediment in a wine bottle to settle down into a tight space around the base, preventing the sediment from being disturbed and released back into the wine as it is poured into a glass.
5. It adds strength to the bottle
I like this reason. It feels right. And yet, and yet… There are plenty of cheap wine bottles that do not have a punt not to mention the many other types of bottles with flat bottles.
6. Punts Make Your Wine Chill Quicker
The indentation, at least for white wine, increases the internal surface area of the bottle enabling faster chilling.
7. According To Folklore, a Punt Prevented a Bottle from Being Refilled
One tale states that taverns had a vertical steel pin in their bars. When a bottle of wine was consumed, the bottom of it would be punctured with the pins, ensuring that the bottle would not be refilled. We have to note that while this story is certainly colorful, it doesn’t explain why full bottles of wine contain punts.
8. Punts Make the Bottle More Resistant To High Pressure
For the same reason as aluminum soft drinks cans do – to make them stronger and able to withstand a buildup of pressure within. In some cases fermentation continues after the wine has been bottled – and so pressure builds up behind the cork. A solid, thicker base, with greater surface area with which to handle the force from the wine, ensures the bottle will not burst from the pressure.
9. Punts Allow Bottles to Be More Easily Organized
Bottles of Champagne and other sparkling wines have a deep punt. According to traditional winemaking methods, sparkling wine bottles are put upside down. The neck is placed downward, one on top of the other. For still wines, that is to say without bubbles, there is no need for such storage. Though a theory suggest that in the old days punts made it easier to transport and store wine bottles as punts allowed the bottles to be stacked into each other, which reduced how much they move in transit.
Punts do appear to serve many purposes. Perhaps most importantly, they stand out in your mind, and make you curious to learn more about them, which is why you chose to read this article!