At the bottom of most wine bottles, you’ll find an indentation which if you want to get technical is called a "punt". There are many theories on the origin / purpose of the punt. The most common (and most likely) explanation, is that back in the day when wine bottles were hand blown, the bottom of the bottle would be left with a sharp point, or "pontil mark". Therefore many a homeowner would be left with their table covered in scratches, until some genius came along and created the punt by pushing the bottom of the bottle inwards during the glass blowing process.
One tip though; never serve wine like the guy in the photo above. It serves no purpose. A Master Sommelier I was talking to a few years ago called this the "Proctologists Grip", and it isn’t considered standard restaurant service etiquette.
There are several theories why on the punt; we’ll start with the plausible, and get increasingly ridiculous as we move down the list. These are just a few I managed to track down:
A bottle made with a flat bottom can be very unstable and fall over if not made perfectly, so the punt allows for a larger margin of error from the glassblower.
It increases the strength of the bottle, allowing it to hold the high pressure of sparkling wine/champagne. I’ve heard this one plenty of times and it may be slightly true, however there are plenty of Champagne’s (Cristal for example) that don’t have a punt underneath.
One explanation that I do like, however I am unsure of its origins, is that the punt was used by servants who knew more than their master about what was happening in the local area. A thumb up the punt would show their master whether a guest was to be trusted or not.
Prevents the bottle from resonating as easily, decreasing the likelihood of shattering during transportation. They should do a Mythbusters on this one!
The punt allows bottles to be stacked end to end. I don’t know many people who would try stacking bottles in this manner, but if they do good luck to them!
It accommodates the pourer’s thumb for a more stable and easy of pour. See "Proctologists Grip".
The punt acts as a lens, refracting the light to make the color of the wine more appealing. Nice idea, but no….
It collects the sediment, preventing it from being poured into the glass. Total crap.
It makes the bottle look like it has more wine in it than you’re actually paying for! No comment…