Ask Wine Wizard

Do fluted bottles serve any useful purpose other just for looks?

TroubleShooting

Dr. Giles M. Marion — Reno, Nevada asks,
Q

I am by training and inclination an environmentalist, as well as an avid wine, cider, and beer maker. Whenever I buy commercial beverages — which is not often given my productivity — I always buy bottles that are reusable. Lately, I am seeing more wine bottles with fluted tops, which are hard to use with my hand corker. Do these fluted tops serve any useful purpose or are they just an affectation on the part of wineries?

A
The Wine Wizard replies: Ah yes, the beloved fluted tops. I’ve heard many justifications for them from various folks, usually that the tops help you to pour the wine without dripping down the side of the bottle, but I really think it’s just one more packaging trend (like neon-colored synthetic corks). The Robert Mondavi winery was one of the first establishments in this country to start using them with any frequency. As they are one of the best-selling brands of wines around, many other wineries jumped on the fluted-top bandwagon. Add in the fact that thrifty and environmentally-conscious winemakers like yourself can’t re-use these kinds of bottles very easily and there’s very little to recommend these fluted bottles. Myself, I’m not really a fan.
Response by Alison Crowe.