The Rise of the Corta: Unusual Wine Bottle Sizes Could Be a 2017 Wine Trend

Unusual Wine Bottle Sizes

Some winemakers are using unusual wine bottle sizes with especially long necks to make their wine look more attractive. Photo Credit: Pixabay CC user PetraBlahoutova

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 I recently got into an argument with one of my wine enthusiast friends over canned wine. After buying Underwood’s latest release (their Oregon Pinot Noir), he claimed that canned wine could be the future of the wine industry. I wholeheartedly disagreed. To start, you can’t properly age a canned wine over the decades–a wine needs some oxygen to start the aging process, and a can is too tightly sealed. A glass bottle also appears more elegant than an aluminum can; fine wine collectors expect an attention to craftsmanship and detail in the bottles they buy. Aluminum can wine is just one of many new ways to package wine that we’ve seen over the past year, and this trend isn’t dying down anytime soon. We’re also seeing more unusual wine bottle sizes on the market than ever, but only a few of those sizes and shapes will stand the test of time.

The Latest Unusual Wine Bottle Sizes

Aluminum cans and plastic bottles will likely never be worthwhile investments for collectors. Plastics tend to affect the taste of the wine inside, while metal cans negatively impact aging potential. This is why many fine wine producers are experimenting with the shape of glass bottles instead. Here are a few of the latest unusual wine bottle sizes in glass:

The Corta

In California’s Sonoma and Napa Valley, cult winemakers are experimenting with an unusual wine bottle size, the corta. This is a short bottle that was inspired by the hand-blown glass bottles found in ancient Italy. They contain 9 percent less glass than the average Bordeaux-style bottle, and they take up 14 percent less room in a cellar. Unlike other trendy new bottle sizes on the market today, the corta has a rich historical precedent, and it’s already being embraced by top wineries in the region. Scribe is making a skin-fermented Chardonnay in the corta size. La Sirena is also crafting a new label based on the corta size, which could rival its famous Cabernet Sauvignon in popularity.

Purse-Sized Champagne Bottles

Miniature Champagne bottles have been around for decades, but the latest trend is in luxury purse-sized bottles. Rapper and producer Jay-Z recently released a limited edition, 1,000 bottle run of his Armand de Brignac in 187 ml containers. Each of these miniature bottles costs $150 each, and experts suspect that we could see more of these limited edition bottlings from other famous producers in the future. Years from now, you might be able to buy bottles of special edition Krug or Louis Roederer in sizes small enough to fit inside of your purse or blazer pocket, making it much easier to bring bottles to dinner, or give them away as small gifts.

Grazia Cammello 3 L Bottle

So far, there’s only one bottle like Grazia Cammello on the market. This Italian Merlot comes in a three-liter container that has the longest neck in the world. Its neck is more than three feet tall, with a slightly wider, bulb-like base holding it upright. A wicker basket covers the base of the bottle, similar to how Chianti is stored. This bottle looks like a piece of art from a museum, and collectors report that it’s nearly impossible to transport, store, and pour.

Aging Should Be Your First Concern

Just because an unusual wine bottle size is beautiful or rare doesn’t mean that it’s the right investment for your cellar. Out of the three bottle sizes above, only one has the potential to properly age wine for decades: the corta. To start, this bottle size has benefits that go beyond aesthetics; it’s easier to transport and store than nearly any other bottle. It still holds the same amount of liquid as a standard bottle (750ml), but each bottle takes up less space, meaning it could potentially allow you to store more wine in your cellar or professional warehouse. The only downside so far is that the bottles are slightly harder to open than their standard peers.

However, the purse-sized Champagne bottles and Grazia Cammello-style shape likely won’t catch on as easily as the corta. The problem with these shapes is that aging won’t be as effective. Champagne in a magnum-sized container will age more slowly than Champagne in a split-sized container because the liquid inside will be exposed to less oxygen over time. Although the corta is small, it still contains the typical 750ml amount of wine, meaning that it will still age relatively slowly. A small, 187ml Champagne bottle, on the other hand, will age more quickly because the liquid inside is exposed to more oxygen (it has a larger surface area for the amount of wine inside). Only invest in purse-sized bottles if you plan on drinking them very soon, or you want a portable fine wine to take with you on a picnic or vacation.

As for the Grazia Cammello bottle, while it does have aging potential, it also comes with storage and transportation complications. With a three-foot-tall neck, finding a place to safely store the wine will be tricky, and you’ll have to decide between storing it upright or on its side. If you store it on its side, you’ll risk snapping the thin neck in half. If you store it upright, you’ll risk drying the cork out and spoiling your wine. Space is precious in your cellar, so it’s best to avoid gimmicky, large format bottles that don’t improve aging potential. An artfully-crafted, unusual bottle could be a great addition to your collection, but only if the wine inside is safe.

Whether you are starting your high-end wine collection or adding to an established portfolio, Vinfolio is your partner in buying, selling, and professional storage. Contact us today to get access to the world’s best wine.