What Is a Wine Bottle Punt For?
There's no real consensus on why the punt is there, but it turns out to have a lot of practical uses. So no matter why glass blowers started putting punts in bottles, they've stuck around.
The first and maybe most plausible reason for the indentation at the base of the wine bottle is that it makes the bottle less tippy. Wine bottles are often tall and narrow, and when they were originally hand blown, the glass blowing process created a seam at the bottom.
Adding the punt pushed the seam up into the bottle, and the extra weight helped keep the bottom where it belongs on the table.
You might assume that the punt is there to catch wine sediment — or dregs — in the bottom of the bottle, which it kind of does. But when you're pouring wine, the sediment is actually caught by the shoulders of the bottle, where it curves before the neck.
Many bottles of wine are stored on their sides anyway, so the punt doesn't matter. And there's the fact that wines — like whites or rosé varieties — don't really have sediments but their bottles still have punts.
That leads us to a couple of sneakier reasons for that indentation.
Is a Punt a Sign of Quality Wine?
For a long time, the finest wines had punts and cheaper wines didn't. But then the makers of cheaper wines figured out that people would pay more for wine in bottles with punts because they thought it meant the wine was of a higher quality. So today a punt doesn't necessarily signal a quality wine.
Then there's the fact that the bottle looks like it has a lot of wine inside, but part of that space is taken up by the punt. You can make the punt and the bottle as big as you like, but most bottles still hold the same standard 750 ml of wine.
No matter why the punt was put there, it turns out to be pretty useful.
You can put your thumb in the punt while you hold the bottom of the bottle as you pour a glass. This helps avoid transferring the heat from your hand to the wine.
Speaking of temperature, the punt provides more surface area, which helps some varieties chill faster. And you can slide the cork of one bottle into the punt of another in order to store more bottles on their sides.