How to stop BHBS (big heavy bottle syndrome)

I know it’s proven marketing or else it would t happen, but the shipping (and environmental) costs and annoyance of storing odd shaped bottles should have all of us urging our favorite producers to STOP!!! What if some of the “great domaines” of the world led the way. Surely no one would balk at purchasing and might demonstrate clearly that weight of glass has nothing to do with the contents.

Really like the Sabelli wines Adam, but the bottles weigh 3x what they need to! I’m about to move here,and am starting to realize just how much of my collection is in very heavy bottles.

Kudos to Halcon, Wind Gap and Wilde Farm for their normal to light bottles, and thank god Turley changed the shape enough to fit in racks this vintage.


The way to change the behavior - don’t purchase and let the wineries know why.

All of my bottles are simple Bordeaux shaped - and even when I bottke my upcoming pinots, they will remain in these simple bottles.

Just my $.02 of course . . .


I think we obsessive collectors are far too few, and far too eager to put up with inconvenience in our pursuit of wine nirvana, to effect any kind of change

A 1967 Ridge Monte Bello (not marked as such of course) remains the most compact 750ml wine bottle I’ve ever had the pleasure of handling. But Ridge bottles got heavier in subsequent years. If arch rationalists like Ridge aren’t immune from bottle size creep, I can’t imagine any other winery is…


I may dislike a particular producer’s bottle shape or weight, but I don’t think that alone is enough reason to make me stop purchasing them. After all, I still like the wines and want to continue support the producer’s whose wines I enjoy. Though letting them know your preference against big bottles can certainly go a long way towards having them change that. Surely, all that extra weight adds up significantly to the shipping costs as well no?

Other than the understandably thicker bottles for sparkling wines, life would really be much easier if everything were bottled in a standard BDX. Those of us that use wine fridges would certainly rejoice at the ability to actually maximize the use of every shelf and not tear labels just trying to get our damn wine out.

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I had my first Scarecrow yesterday and even knowing how heavy some Napa Cabs/reds can get, I was pretty surprised with the weight of that bottle. It felt like they added a metal weight to the bottom. As long as the bottles don’t break, I want whatever its lightest and easiest to fit on a rack or in a box.

I’m with you. I have one wine fridge where all the shelves are slightly too short to allow standard BDX bottles to fit well shoulder to shoulder. Drives me nuts [swearing.gif]. The only solace is that Burg bottles fit well thankfully, but it still…

I decided to gather a little data, since I like to hang on to empty bottles that have sentimental value:

453g - 1967 Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon (no punt, interestingly)
550g - many bottles fall into this range (standard Bordeaux, Burgundy)
767g - Joseph Phelps Insignia
895g - 2009 Mouton (they seem to have moved to a heavier bottle ~2000)
909g - PYCM (I know it’s not a red but I include it for laughs)
1,207g - 2003 Shafer HSS (they seem to have moved to a heavier bottle ~2000)

Horrifyingly, there is a delta of 754g from the largest to smallest bottle in my little collection, which works out to 20lb per case [shock.gif]

And there have got to be heavier bottles out there than the Shafer. Bragging rights for whoever comes up with one [cheers.gif]

I am considering changing this year. The heavy one you talk about is the BDX shaped one. Really like that shape, but it doesn’t come in a lighter version, so might have to change shape. I would love to have just one bottle for all reds and whites like Larry, but I still think it feels like the variety demands a certain shape at times.

I really like the Turley Cabernet Sauv bottle shape they use. It’s very lightweight.

Interesting data points. Thanks for sharing. I know some wineries feel that heavier bottles convey a sense of a wine being more premium, but even a modest 200g per bottle weight reduction would reduce the weight of a case by over 5lbs. Surely that’s not insignificant as far as shipping costs goes.

Guess we know where part of the cost of HSS goes to

Just buy a big pick-up truck. Problem solved.

Considering how many of the great domaines of the world are in Europe and using standard glass, I think many of them have always been leading the way.

I agree; I don’t like the heavy bottles.

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I’ve got a soft spot for Shafer so have the following data points for Hillside Select bottles with one exception:

1998- 1198g
*Note- 750ml of wine is approx 750g

Full bottle-
1992- 1327g (not Hillside Select designated, first HSS was '94)
1998- 1956g
1999- 1952g
(similar weights through 2005)
2005- 1986g
2006- 1785g
(similar weights though current vintage 2016)
2016- 1764g

So- Not sure when Shafer started using the 1950g (full)/ 1200g (empty) bottle for HSS but it was in place for 1998 vintage.
Shafer moved to a lighter bottle (1770g full/ 1020g empty) with the 2006 vintage. Doug and John included a nice, long explanatory note in that vintage flyer citing reduced carbon footprint and shipping costs, etc as their reasoning.

More data points (because I couldn’t stop myself)-

Spring Mtn 1994- 562g
Dominus 1994- 541g
Stags Leap Wine Cellars Fay 1995- 596g
Mt Veeder 1997- 568g
Heitz Martha’s Vineyard 1999- 483g

Full Bottles (USA, CA)-
Quintessa 1995- 1347g
Phelps Insignia 1997- 1520g
Colgin IX 2004- 1651g
Outpost Cab 2014- 1620g
Saxum JBV 2015- 1605g
Quintessa 2016- 1360g
Pott Cab 2017- 1519g
Detert Cab 2018-1400g

Full Bottles (International)-
Antinori Guado Al Tasso 1997- 1362g
Antinori Tignanello 1997- 1364g
Montevertine Le Pergole Torte 97- 1357g
Sassicaia 2000- 1365g
Clos Apalta 2005- 1528g
Molly Dooker Carnival of Love 2010- 1324g
Clos du Mont Olivet CdP 2008- 1397g
Domaine du Pegau CdP 2009- 1400g

DRC has entered the chat

This is interesting to actually weigh them…

Lightest so far is a Bierzo Mercia 1150g full

My greatest non sparkling offender so far is Soliste at over 1700g full.

So both of those are burgundy shaped! You’re talking 6.6kg more per case, 15lbs or so. That adds up for sure…

For our winemakers out there, does that represent a significant change in shipping cost?

This is perhaps the most frustrating part of our choices in bottles, and another reason why I feel like the structure of European wine regions has more benefits than people realize.

If you put Le Montrachet or Chevalier-Montrachet in a basic Burgundy bottle, that’s fine because Grand Cru is right there for everyone to see.

But for new world producers that mutually agreed upon designation doesn’t exist, and so other factors weigh more heavily into consumer choices. I used a standard Burgundy bottle for years, and struggled with placements in shops for the upper tier wines. One day I was walking through one of my favorite shops and realized that every single top end wine they carried was in a bigger, heavier bottle.

I dislike the really obviously big bottles enough that I can’t bring myself to use them, but I moved up in weight class to the Cepage bottle that is a pretty common higher end option among Oregon wineries for the micro-lots and Heritage wines. Our WV bottlings are back to a more standard bottle.

I would be more than happy to drop back to a regular bottle for everything, but awareness of Oregon wines is still relatively low. For many consumers the subconcious feel of bigger bottles is an impact. Threads like these are great to see though and hopefully it’s just a matter of time.


It’s great to see those weights from 1990’s vintages. 1994 Dominus was one of my favorite CA wines, and obviously the bottle sizes then were much more normal.

We used 3 bottles for the 2019s, their weights(empty) are as follows:

Micro-lots and Heritage wines: 688g

Vineyard designates: 626g

Willamette Valley: 590g

I’m not a winemaker, but I do know a bit about wine shipping. For export/distribution, the winery typically does not pay for shipping. The distributor or importer arranges all transportation from the winery or warehouse. The vast majority of the industry works on these (ex-works) terms. Importer to distributor (in the US) it’s typically the same arrangement. DTC is a bit more complicated situation in terms of the number of possible scenarios, but it’s relevant that someone who does a lot of business with Fedex/UPS (such as a fulfillment center, which a lot of wineries use) will get lower rates on heavier boxes than smaller operations get on lighter boxes, if that makes sense. In both cases, selling more wine is a much greater motivator than reducing shipping costs. Importers and distributors will account for shipping costs when they calculate their selling prices. A lot of DTC models have consumers paying for shipping. Those that don’t are probably getting really nice Fedex/UPS rates and/or selling bottles at high enough margins that they can absorb that cost pretty easily.