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All bottles sold by FineWine have been carefully inspected upon their arrival. All bottles sold by us have wine fills above the base of the neck and labels and corks in excellent condition, unless otherwise noted.

The fill level of a bottle (also called ullage – technically the air space between the cork and the wine) can be very informative about the condition of the wine.

Wine breathes through the cork as it ages, adding complexity, mellowing tannins and lowering the fill level. Also, some wine is absorbed by the cork as a part of the normal ageing process.

We believe that wines less than 20 years old should have a wine fill at or above the base of the neck. Older wines should have a wine fill at least High Shoulder to be considered in premier condition. Wine fills at lower shoulder levels may still be fine, depending on the age of the wine. We will never sell a wine with a fill Below Shoulder. Such a fill level indicates the probability of a faulty cork or poor wine storage at some point in the bottle’s past.

Following are two illustrations. The first represents a bottle shape from Bordeaux. It is also the shape for most wine bottles around the world.


The illustration below is a bottle shape for Burgundy. Because if its lack of a well-defined shoulder, we describe its ullage in terms of distance from the cork. The condition of Burgundy wines seems to be less affected by ullage than the wines of Bordeaux. It is normal for a young wine to have a fill level one inch or one and one half inches below the cork. Older wines may naturally possess double the ullage of young wines.