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Snooth User: CuriousWine

Breaking the Mold: Thoughts on Irregular Bottle Shapes

Posted by CuriousWine, Apr 11, 2008.

There is no need to adjust your computer monitor. The pictures of bottles below have not been manipulated to alter their shapes (admittedly, they have been scaled down so they would fit on your screen). These bottles were purposely distorted from the get-go. They were designed this way and with good reason; like 'em, love ’em, or hate 'em, they're eye-catching. While some might claim, that such bottles are but clever marketing gimmicks of consumer-savvy New World wine producers, I remind you that the Old World has long been at it as well. Think Black Tower or Lancers and Mateus or that one with the cat .  There's your proof that there is no such thing as accounting for taste, at least when it comes to aesthetics.


Anyway, wines in irregular bottle shapes are popular. They're  recognizable; in fact, most are memorable, a wine marketer's dream. Anyone who's sold wine in a retail setting can tell you of a first hand experience where a customer was looking for a wine they had tried previously, but all they remembered was that it had a red label. If you're concerned with making a wine look distinctive, such a dilemma is fretful because it happens all the time. Because while the majority of wines don't have red labels, quite a handful do. But not many wines are in bottles that look like scientific beakers  (thanks to my colleague and fellow blogger, Robert Scibelli for showing me this bottle) or bottles that look like they're melting . Score one for design.


Of course, I dislike these bottles because, though memorable, they are hard to store and ship. With many irregular bottle shapes, the function of distinctive packaging overpowers the function of storage, which I feel is paramount. Many are troublesome to try to fit into wine racks and even more difficult to find packing materials for. Look at me; here I am complaining once again. Hopefully, you're used to it by now. But for the sake the weekend, let me stop myself. Go outside, relax, enjoy the Spring in all its Springy glory and think about irregular bottle shapes. Is it really worth breaking the mold?

Scott Rosenbaum is director of operations for the International Wine Center and wine buyer for the retailer DrinkUpNY .


Reply by Philip James, Apr 11, 2008.

I actually liked the chemistry conical beaker look of the second image - i had no idea that it was Francis Ford Coppola's new line; Encyclopedia!

Reply by andrew, Apr 11, 2008.

I think good bottle design can be achieved without resorting to bizarre gimmicks. For example, Rosemount Estate Diamond Cellars or the black towers bottle you show. Wine in a beaker? Interesting idea, but I can't imagine pouring some for a guest!

Reply by John Andrews, Apr 12, 2008.

I agree with Andrew ... you can do a lot with the same bottle and still have distinct packaging. I point to R Winery wines ... great packaging and naming using standard bottles.

Look at the Boarding Pass Shiraz: The bottle's label looks like a boarding pass. The back label has 'instructions' on it like an airplane safety card and the bar code is like a luggage tag around the neck of the bottle. :-) I deleted the old image on the Snooth page and uploaded one of the bottle so people can see what I mean.

(Tech issue: the enlarged image wasn't updated after I deleted and added the new image)

Reply by Philip James, Apr 13, 2008.

Honda, i think its fine now. There's just a delay as the image you upload gets copied to different servers which host different parts of the site. Thanks

Reply by Philip James, Apr 13, 2008.

And yes, thats a cool looking package

Reply by Mark Angelillo, Apr 13, 2008.

The only problem with non standard bottle sizes is that they don't fit in wine racks. Standards compliance makes it easier for supporting products to do their correct job. For example, you'll notice that none of these bottles have an opening 6 inches across because it would nullify the utility of any commercially available corkscrew.

I guess the wine rack issue isn't as big, but it makes some difference.

Reply by John Andrews, Apr 16, 2008.

I have enough problems with Burgundy bottles in my wine cooler ... irregular shaped bottles make it even more of a challenge ... but I do remember them!

Reply by Chris Carpita, Apr 16, 2008.

If they made bottles in the shape of the Virgin Mary, I would buy one for my grandmother.

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