Surprisingly, the wine bottle as we know it today was developed in England, rather than in one of the major wine-producing regions of the world. Sir Kenelm Digby (1603-1665) was a philosopher, courtier, and diplomat, among other pursuits; he has been referred to as a quintessential “Renaissance Man.” His technique for manufacturing wine bottles was revolutionary, using a coal-based furnace with a wind tunnel that could get hotter than other furnaces, and a different sand mixture used as the foundation of the glass. Digby’s bottles were sturdier than previous wine bottles, and the tint of the glass blocked natural light from degrading the wine.
Among his other noteworthy exploits:
- Known as a bit of an eccentric in his time, Digby advanced the idea of certain “sympathetic magics” such as the “powder of sympathy,” which healed wounds by applying the powder to whatever had caused the wound.
- He authored a number of scholarly books in his lifetime, but was also known, after his death, for The Closet of the Eminently Learned Sir Kenelme Digbie Kt. Opened, a 17th-Century cookbook containing many of his personal recipes ranging from meat to mead.
- Also an accomplished swordsman, Digby famously helped the Lord of Bristol dispatch a vicious gang of murderers on the streets of Madrid.