Does A Heavier Bottle Indicate A Better Quality Wine?

Industrial bottling of wine
Industrial bottling of wine - DuxX/Shutterstock

Most people who enjoy wine would tell you that it's an experience, not simply a drink. There's a feeling you get while holding the bottle in your hands and looking at the label. A common myth associates thicker glass bottles with luxury, but does a heavier bottle really mean better wine? The short answer is, no, not really. Though you might get a great wine in a beastly bottle, that shouldn't be the organizing principle.

The myth of heavier bottles holding better-quality wine may be an issue of optics, or perhaps empirical knowledge. The weightiness of a wine bottle could understandably give some folks a sense of opulence. If people invest in the experience of a nice restaurant and order wine for the table, being presented with a thin wisp of a bottle could feel gauche. It also costs more money to buy heavier bottles, and consequent restaurant markups reflect that reality. It seems inevitable, however, that in a not-too-distant future, most wine bottles will be distributed in lighter bottles, and one day, nobody will remember the big boys of yore.

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A Sustainable Future

Red Wine bottles on display
Red Wine bottles on display - Alvarez/Getty Images

The Sustainable Wine Roundtable, which includes some of the biggest players in the wine industry, launched their Bottle Weight Accord on October 10, 2023, in an effort to reduce the weight of all non-sparkling wines sold in 750-milliliter bottles from 550 grams to 420 grams within three years. Sustainable wine is the future, with both the rise of biodynamic production of wines as well as eco-conscious bottling and distribution. It should come as no surprise that it also costs more to package wine in heavier bottles. Indeed, the weight of those bottles gets heavier still -- the number of empties that end up in landfills annually exceeds 3 billion bottles in the United States alone.

As bottle weight accounts for up to half of wine's total greenhouse gas emissions, switching to lighter bottles could reduce these emissions by more than 25%, according to the Sustainable Wine Roundtable. Some producers who resist the change are concerned about the effect lightening the load will have on the perception of a wine's quality. Others are way ahead of the curve, like Britain's chain supermarket Tesco, which introduced lighter-weight bottles to its shelves in 2010.

Don't Judge A Book By Its Bottle

Person holding two wine bottles
Person holding two wine bottles - Miniseries/Getty Images

There is, of course, always the exception to the rule. When it comes to sparkling wines, don't expect the bottle to change a bit. The bottles for sparkling wines are a specific thickness and weight to account for the internal pressure of all that CO2. If they started bottling sparkling wine in lighter bottles, it could be costly and result in a pretty messy trip on the way to the retailer.

The truth is, there probably won't be a palpable difference in weight between the lighter bottles and the heavier ones to the average consumer. In fact, thinner bottles actually require higher-quality manufacturing to ensure their structural integrity, which can actually result in stronger builds than heavier bottles. At the end of the day, you're not drinking the bottle. The use of lighter bottles might actually create an egalitarian future for wine so you can focus on what's actually important: good vino.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.