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Bordeaux-Style Wine Bottle

The excavation of the SS Republic yielded an assortment of wine bottles, including the Bordeaux-style, hock-style and champagne-style varieties. Seventy-seven examples of the transparent green Bordeaux-style wine bottle were recovered from the wreck site in two distinct sizes. Most still contain their cork stoppers, now eroded with age, forced into the bottles by the increased pressure as the ship sank. Also commonly referred to as a cabernet, claret or sauterne, the bottle's name refers to the application in which the bottle was typically used, i.e., to bottle Bordeaux region wines which include cabernet sauvignon, claret, and sauterne (sweet wine from the Sauterne region of France). 

Bordeaux bottles such as this example are typified by having a tall body with almost vertically parallel sides, a moderately steep shoulder, and a moderately short and distinct neck. The bottle bases usually feature a relatively deep push-up or kick-up, the steep indentation visible through the glass.

Bordeaux-style wine bottles were made for an exceptionally long period of time-from possibly the early 19th century to the present day. The bottle shape originated in Europe by at least the early-to-mid 1800s and likely came to the U.S. shortly thereafter. The style follows the chronological trend of wine bottle shapes which evolved from wider and squatty to taller and narrower. 

Similar Bordeaux bottles, in nearly pristine condition, were found on the steamboat Bertrand, which sank in the Missouri River in April 1865, the same year as the Republic's last voyage. The Bertrand samples, with foil seals indicating French Bordeaux production, suggest that the Republic bottles likewise may have been imported from France. It is possible however, that the Republic bottles were produced in the United States. American manufacturers were producing the claret bottle type as early as 1800. An 1819 ad for Thomas Pears & Company announced the firm had obtained a complete set of workmen from...France "and that its new factory would produce claret bottles of the same kind and quality of the imported." An 1831 New England Glass Company advertisement also noted that their claret bottles were a "correct imitation of the French."

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