Thursday, May 16, 2019

Wine Bottle Weight (Full and Empty)

Wine Bottle Weight (Full and Empty)

Wine Bottle Weight by ©LeDomduVin 2019

Did you ever wonder how much a bottle of wine weight? In kilos or pounds? 

Well, one of my colleagues asked me this question recently, which prompted me to write this little post on the subject to transcribe my answer to him for you all, just in case you'll be interested to know. 

First, let's clarify a huge universal misconception.

Basically, it is common ground to believe that 12 full regular bottles of wine weigh about 9 kg (kilos) or 19.842 lbs (pounds), as their volume per bottle is 750 ml (millilitres) and because 1 ml = 1gr, therefore 750 ml = 750 gr (grams) or 0.75 kg (kilos) or 1.653 lbs (pounds); so

750 gr x 12 bottles = 9 kg or 19.842 lbs (pounds)

1 kg = 2.20462262 pounds (usually rounded at 2.205 pounds)
but check the "Kilos to Pounds" conversion table below for more references.

Kilos to Pounds Conversion Table by ©LeDomduVin 2019

This universal misconception is purely and simply incorrect. Worst, it is completely wrong. It is wrong as 9 kg (kilos) or 19.842 lbs (pounds) would only be the weight of the liquid inside the bottle (the content only), not including the weight of the bottles (meaning without the container).

For the purpose of this post, I'm not including the combined weight of the capsule, the cork and the label(s), which usually only account for a few additional grams to the fully dressed up bottle. Even if I know that, obviously, the capsule made of tin or wax, (which are usually heavier than the ones made of heat-shrink plastic, PVC, or aluminium), as well as the long and full high-quality natural cork (usually heavier than agglomerate and synthetic corks), could evidently be adding a tiny, yet significant amount of weight that should be added to the total weight of the bottle. But I won't take it into consideration for this post if you don't mind.   

Therefore, to answer the question that opened this post (and we will only focus on A for this post):

The weight of a bottle of wine = A (wine weight + bottle weight) + B (capsule+cork+labels)

But wait, it would be too easy if it was that simple (and that's where it usually gets more complicated), wouldn't it? 

Yes, it would be that simple, if all regular wine bottles had the same shape and weight. However, that is not the case, and that is why it is so difficult to answer this question, as there is not one simple correct answer, but thousands of them. 

Not only bottles of wine come into a countless amount of shapes, but they also come into a countless amount of weights due to the heaviness and thickness of the glass used for the bottle. 


Some French Wine Bottle Shapes by ©LeDomduVin 2019

As you can see, a picture is worth a thousand words... 9 different shapes already in this collage with 9 different thickness and heaviness of the glass used for the bottles... (sigh)

So, to refute this common (wrong) believe, let's apply some simple arithmetic to find an answer that will satisfy even the most sceptical ones.

By experience, I can say that a case of 12 bottles of Bordeaux wine weighs about 20-21 kilos on average (which is far above the common believe of 9 kilos, wouldn't you say?). Let's take 21 kilos for this example.

Approximate Weight of a case of 12 bottles of wines by ©LeDomduVin 2019

NB: Please note that I took round numbers for the case weight for the pounds (i.e. a wooden case of 12 bottles may weigh between 40 and 50 pounds), as it was easier visually and for the calculation too.
However, also know that, in fact, some wine boxes/cases may weigh as low as 18.5 kilos (or 40.786 lbs) and up to 23 kilos (or 50.706 lbs) or more.

As detailed in the table above, you can see that if a "Heavy Weight" wooden case of 12 regular Bordeaux bottles weighs about 21 kilos, then the weigh of a bottle of wine (including the wood weigh of the case) is about 1.75 kg or 3.75 lbs (including the wood weigh... important to repeat it for those who may have not understand it in the table above).

Now that we clarified this point, we still have the issue of the wood weigh included in the bottle weight (in the calculation above). So, I could have applied so simple arithmetic there again to determine the wood weight and the full bottle weight, but as mentioned above, bottles of wine come into a countless amount of shapes, but they also come into a countless amount of weights due to the heaviness and thickness of the glass used for the bottle, and therefore, it is very difficult to apply a formula as each bottle has its particular shape and weight.

Consequently, I played a little exercise for this particular post, I weighed some empty bottles I have around the office and in our headquarter's cellar, and I just added to their respective weight the content of the bottle - the volume of the wine if you prefer (750 ml = 750 gr or 0.750 kg or 1.653 lbs if easier to understand, refer to the conversion table above if needed).

To anticipate and prevent from the annoying questions of the sceptics, and other non-believers of all sorts, I took some pictures while weighing the bottles, to show you how I obtained the various weights, that I took as references for the numbers indicated in the column "Approximate Weight Empty Bottle" in the table below.

I compared the following:

Pictures of empty bottles on a mini scale to obtain the weight of each bottle
(Bordeaux, Burgundy and Loire) by ©LeDomduVin 2019

The wines in the picture above are:

  • Clavis Orea Saint-Emilion Grand Cru 2015
  • Petrus Pomerol 1961
  • Haut-Brion Graves 1982 
  • Domaine de la Vougeraie Gevrey-Chambertin 2014
  • DRC (Domaine de la Romanée Conti) Romanée Conti Grand Cru 1966
Loire Valley:
  • Domaine A, Cailbourdin Pouilly Fumé "Les Cris" 2015

Pictures of empty bottles on a mini scale to obtain the weight of each bottle
(Champagne, Napa, Tuscany, Germany) by ©LeDomduVin 2019

The wines in the picture above are:

  • Gosset Grand Blanc de Blancs NV 
  • Dom Perignon Oenotheque 1969
  • Château Cheval Blanc Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Classé A 1947 (A. de Luze et Fils label, I believe, but TBC) 
Napa Valley:
  • SLOAN Rutherford 2004
  • SOLDERA Toscana 2006
  • J.J. Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese 1988 

I put the weighing results in this "Wine Bottle Weight" table below, for a better visual.

NB: Please note that the weights of the bottles in the pictures above (transcribed in the table below) are just a few examples for reference only, and therefore, may not constitute definite or accurate numbers for other bottles than the ones I weighed, as each wine bottle has its own shape and weight. Meaning that even 2 bottles of the same producer, same wine, same vintage, same volume, and even in some cases same bottle lot number, may present slight variations in shape and weight. (Needless to say that even scales can have slight variations too, so these weight numbers are for reference to these specific bottles only)

Wine Bottle Weight (Empty and Full) by ©LeDomduVin 2019

So, as you probably realized (looking at this table above), an empty regular bottle of wine (of 750ml) can weigh anywhere between 500 and 950 grams, with the lightest as low as 475 gr, and the heaviest up to 1012 gr.     

Interesting, isn't it? Personally, I find this fascinating, but not everyone can be as passionate by the wine and the bottle details as I am, a bad professional habit, in fact, as, as a Wine Quality Control Director, I spend a lot of time daily studying and scrutinizing wine bottles.

However, I hope that this little post is helping you to better understand that there is no simple answer to the question  "What is the weight of a bottle of wine?" or "How much does a bottle of wine weight?"

In any case, if we base ourselves on the number above, starting with a case of 12 bottles of Bordeaux wine weighing about 21 kilos (or 46.297lbs) we can separate each component and conclude the following:

A.    If a case of 12 bottles of Bordeaux weight = 21 kg
B.    Then, 1 bottle of Bordeaux weight (including the case's wood weight) = 1.75 kg
C.    Example of an empty regular Bordeaux bottle weight = 0.824 kg
D.    Wine volume weight (per 750ml bottle) = 0.750 kg

Therefore, (B - C - D) = E (Wood weight per bottle) = 0.176 kg

And consequently, (C + D) = F (Full Bottle weight without the wood weight) = 1.574 kg

Here is another table to make it easier for you:

Full Bottle Weight Calculation Example by ©LeDomduVin 2019

And remember, as stated previously above, that the combined weight of the capsule + cork + labels (front and back) was not taken into consideration for this exercise. However, you can definitely add a few more grams to the full bottle total weight if you want, knowing that a tin capsule is about 3-8 gr, and a cork between 3-6gr.

Tin Capsule and Cork weight examples
- by ©LeDomduVin 2019

NB: add a few more grams to the tin capsule examples in the picture above as the top of the capsule is missing (the reason why I wrote about 3-8 gr)

Talking about particular shapes and weights 

It is interesting to notice that historically, shape and weight of the bottles and thickness and heaviness of the glass used for the bottles, changed over time, almost like a trend, meaning coming and going, depending on the availability, style and belief (or trend) of the moment.

Some Chateaux in Bordeaux had heavier, broader and longer bottles back in the 40s and 50s, then lighter and leaner in the 60s and 70s up to the 80s, to go back to heavier style of bottles with thicker glass (more Californian style) in the late 90s and early to mid-2000s, to once again and finally go back to less heavy, more conventional Bordeaux style bottles since the late 2000s and early 2010s.

These bottle weight and shape changes may also be attributed to history itself:

  • The earliest trace of known man-made glass found in Eastern Mesopotamia and Egypt dates as far back as around 3500BC (or 2500BC depending on the source). At that time, black volcanic glass was apparently used to make weapons, amulets and decorative objects.  
  • 1550 BC - Ancient Egypt started their production of glass for various purposes but not necessarily as a vessel for wine (or maybe wine glass and decanter-like style of tools, who knows), they instead used amphorae, sealed with leather or clothes (clay and wax were maybe also used at that time), for the fermentation, storage and transportation of the wine. 
  • The discovery of faience accelerated the evolution of glass and by the mid-1400 BC, glass production was firmly established and further developed in Egypt, yet it remained a costly material, only accessible to the royals and the nobles or the rich merchants at the time. Shortly after, the glass blowing technique was introduced during the Roman Era.
  • The Romans and the Gallic having discovered the advantages of using barrels (previously mainly used for beer) instead of amphorae gradually extended the use of that new vessel for wine. Aside from leather and clothes, clay and wax were also in use as sealants, cork was apparently also in use as a sealant but necessarily to seal wine containers (like amphorae or barrels).        
  • By 3 AD, due to the abundance and proliferation of oak trees in Europe, the Romans had adopted the oak barrel as the vessel of choice for wine fermentation, ageing, storage and transportation. Aside from the other sealants, it is said that cork was also used as a sealant at that time (and even since Ancient Egypt, but it was not then the prefered sealant of choice for wine it became centuries later).    
  • Up until the late 1500s, glass was somewhat fragile, expensive and difficult to manufacture as the bottles and other vessels were hand blown at the time. Aside from leather, clothes, clay, wax, or even porcelain, glass stoppers were also in use but not favoured as a prime choice as each had to be created on an individual basis to perfectly seal their corresponding hand-blown bottle/vessel. A painful process. 
  • 1600s - The invention of the coal furnace allowed for the production of bottles with thicker and thus heavier glass, more difficult to break and thus safer than the glass vessels made until then. Although wine was still aged and transported in barrels during that time, glass bottles began to be used as a prefered container for wine, which was eventually transferred to individual glass bottles, easier for storage, sale, consumption and transportation too. The sealants cited above were still in use, including glass stoppers, but cork use was in rising as it proved easier, more versatile than other types of stoppers. 
PS: The 1600s coal furnace was used to craft glass materials and other tools, nothing to do with the first riveted-steel coal furnace built in 1885 for domestic use as a home heating device.
  • By the late 1600s, as creating more uniform bottles, in shape and design, was now more possible, cork became the sealing material of choice, as proved "somewhat" easier and less dangerous to remove from the bottleneck, compared to glass stoppers which often remained jam into the neck of the bottle and easily broke during removal. However, people struggled to remove the cork from the neck of the bottle as, although the mention of it can be traced as early as 1676, corkscrews did not exist officially until 1681. 
  • During the 1700s, glass bottles were widely used for all sorts of beverage (still wines, sparkling wines, beers, ciders, spirits, etc...), coming in shapes quite different than today's wine bottles: boasting shorter, sturdier bodies with rather large bases and shorter necks. Cork was by now established as the bottle sealant of choice. Yet, people still struggled to remove it from the neck of the bottle and had to wait nearly a century of trials later for easy-to-use corkscrews to be available, as the first corkscrew patent was only granted to the Reverend Samuell Henshall,  in 1795, in England. (*)
  • Early 19th century, roughly by the 1820s, wine bottle shapes had evolved and resembled more the ones we use today. Their production had increased drastically and although still presenting some defaults and asperities, consistency of shapes and design had become much better. And it took real craftsmanship and artisanal skills to create the elegant, stylish and  
  • 1920s -30s - Prohibition - heavy bottle with thick glass
  • 1939 - 45 - WWII -  heavy bottle with thick glass made from whatever glass was available
  • 1950s

💢 Work in progress, to be finished soon 💢

It is also important to mention the bottles produced for particular vintages, occasions or other events. For example, some Châteaux produced special bottles with a different shape and/or heavier/thicker glass, embossed and/or with different labels for the turn of the century and/or the turn of the millennial (i.e. vintage 2000), or for the anniversary of the Château or the owners.  

In fact, if we take the first growths, Latour and Mouton-Rothschild are very good examples of these changes over time, compared to their counterparts (Haut-Brion, Margaux and Lafite), which never really changed the shape of the bottles and/or the heaviness or the thickness of the glass.

Let's take Latour for example:

Chateau Latour Bottle Shapes and Weight Evolution over time by ©LeDomduVin 2019

In this "Château Latour" collage above, (that I made for a better visual of what I'm trying to say), showing the evolution of the shape of the bottle they used over time, you can notice that Chateau Latour's bottles have changed a little over the years:

  • The 1949 vintage is a tall bottle with broad shoulders larger than the bottom of the bottle 
  • The 1964 vintage is a smaller, leaner and straight bottle
  • The 1985 vintage is a modern version of the 1964 vintage, less lean, but still smaller and straight compared to the 1949 vintage
  • The 2003 vintage is bigger, slightly taller with broader shoulders than 1964 and 1985, but it is more straight than 1949
  • The 2011 vintage is back a what we call a more conventional Bordeaux bottle, taller and bigger than 1964 and 1985, but as straight as them, yet not as thick, heavy or tall as 2003 and definitely not as 1949  

As the scale of these bottles (on my collage above) may not be correct, let's have a look at some pictures of full and empty bottles of Latour I have at the office and in our headquarter's cellar. It might be a better visual.

Chateau Latour 1952, 1953, 1961 and 1982 bottles
- by ©LeDomduVin 2019

As you can see in the picture above:

  • Château Latour 1952 and 1953 vintages have higher and broader shoulders than both the 1961 and 1982, the glass is also darker, thicker and thus heavier 

Once again, to prove it to the sceptics (who might not believe that I took these pictures and/or that I handle this type of old and rare bottles on daily basis, and, last but not least, for records and references purposes for future inspection, as I'm a Wine Quality control Director after all), I made some collages with pictures showing the weight of the empty bottles (not the full bottles as they are too expensive, but I might another day for the purpose of another post).

Chateau Latour 1950, 1961 x 2, 1982 empty bottles with bottle weights
- by ©LeDomduVin 2019

As you can see in the picture above, the weight of these empty bottles of Chateau Latour varies quite a bit depending on the vintage. And as already mentioned above, the weight may even vary between two bottles of the same wine and same vintage, like it is the case for these bottles of 1961 vintage.

  • Château Latour 1950 empty bottle weight is 628 gr (or 628 + 750 = 1,378 kg for a full bottle)
  • Château Latour 1961 (1) empty bottle weight is 569 gr (or 569 + 750 = 1,319 kg for a full bottle) 
  • Château Latour 1961 (2) empty bottle weight is 594 gr (or 594 + 750 = 1,344 kg for a full bottle) 
  • Château Latour 1982 empty bottle weight is 545 gr (or 545 + 750 = 1,295 kg for a full bottle) 

Let's do a graph to have a better visual:

Chateau Latour Bottle Weight Comparison by ©LeDomduVin 2019

PS: I will try to find empty bottles of these specific bottles to weigh them with the mini-scale and take pictures to show the difference in weight between these vintages and the difference of bottle shape and heaviness and thickness of the glass used. 

I will also do a collage (soon) with Mouton Rothschild to show you the difference

💢 Work in progress, to be finished soon 💢


To conclude, and in order to give somewhat of an answer to the initial question, and based on the numbers in the various tables above, we can finally say that the weight of a full bottle of wine of 750ml (glass + volume) is roughly between 1.3 kg (or 2.866 lbs) and 1.8 kg (3.968 lbs), depending on the 2 main following factors:

  • The shape of the bottles (sizes variations due to)
    • Region
    • Tradition
    • Style
    • Design
    • Wine Type
  • The thickness and heaviness of the glass (depending on)
    • Trend
    • Design
    • Wine Type
    • Winery's owner/Winemaker decision

Fact: In this catastrophized time of climate changes, global warming, ever increasing pollution, weather control over Mother Nature (by spraying chemicals in the air to modify the weather; also called "Cloud Seeding", a process of spraying common chemicals, including silver iodide, potassium iodide and/or dry ice (solid carbon dioxide), to dissipate heavy clouds and minimize the impact of hail storms and/or frost wave for example, or to simply prevent from rain to fall and maintain a blue sky and/or dimish the pollution in the air for certain events (e.g. 2008 Olympic Games in Bejing, China, for example) and/or for the venue of President or particular political personalities (occuring in Europe, USA, China, and probably elsewhere), and with men's failed attempts to change anything of his bad habits and behaviours over the last 70 years and the direct and indirect consequences these may have caused on the planet's environmental equilibrium, needless to say that the heavier the bottle is, the less "environment-friendly" it is (for the reasons you can imagine: production's energy and cost, weight, transport, logistics, etc...).

Tips: Diminish/reduce your use of plastic products, for example, do not buy any more water in plastic bottles, buy a kettle water boiler (to boil tap water) and recycle a few of your empty bottle of wines (transparent if possible, like "Rosé" wine bottles) that you will refill with the boiled water on a daily basis (only once the water has cooled down, of course, please do not pour boiling water into a glass bottle as it may explode due to the heat - you've been warned). That is what I personally do at home, and as a family of 4, we easily drink 3 bottles of 750ml of water per meal (3 for lunch and 3 for dinner). That's about 4.5 Liters of drinking water a day!!! Evidently, you roughly know what you spend on drinking water in plastic bottles on a weekly basis, so imagine the savings if you were using a kettle... moreover, you will contribute to helping preserve the environment and at the same time you will reduce your carbon footprint by producing less non-recyclable trash and non-biodegradable waste... just saying...

That's all folks for today!

Stay tuned for more post like this one coming soon, and leave me a comment below if you feel like it. 

Santé! Cheers!

LeDomduVin (a.k.a Dominique Noël)

PS: This post comes as a complement to another post, titled "Bottle Dimensions", that I wrote 2 years ago and that you can read here

Step into the Green! Drink more Biodynamic and Organic wines (and food) from sustainable culture and respect the environment! Preserve the Planet!

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