Friday, July 3, 2020

Key to Wine and Champagne Bottle Sizes

In Bottle Sizes... Bigger is Better
Key to Wine and Champagne Bottle Sizes

I often mention 'large format' bottles in these pages. There are actually seventeen different standardized bottle sizes for wines and champagne. Large format refers to larger than the standard 750ml bottle size. The larger sized bottles are produced in less quantity than the standard size bottle, and are typically worth more than just double or whatever multiple of the contents of the price of the regular size bottle accounting for the increased cost of the oversize packaging. 

Champagne is most popular and common in using larger bottles. The magnum is a double sized bottle (1.5 liters) and is one of the best selling sized bottles for Champagne. Many California Cabernet Sauvignons, Red Bordeaux, and Red Burgundies are produced and collected in these larger formats.

It is generally accepted that wine will age better - longer, more gracefully and uniformly, in a large format bottle - hence their popularity with collectors. This is due to the smaller proportion of air in the vessel in relation to the proportion of wine. 

Many of the larger format bottle sizes are named after Biblical kings, perhaps in reverence or remembrance to their size and stature. 

There is also great novelty and fun in opening and serving a large bottle. Often for special occasions, one will have all the quests sign the label of a large bottle as the labels are proportionately larger with the large bottles. 

See Rick's large format bottles, labels and large bottle feature in Wine Spectator Magazine

The 17 Standard Bordeaux/California Bottle Sizes

Made for Sparkling Wine.
187 ml.
1/4 of a standard bottle
375 ml.
1/2 of a standard bottle
Standard BOTTLE
750 ml.
1 standard bottle
MAGNUM1.5 litersEqual to 2 standard bottles.
DOUBLE MAGNUM3 litersEqual to 4 standard bottles.
JEROBOAM - This is what Champagne and Burgundy call their 3 liter bottles. Equal to 4 standard bottles.
REHOBOAMAbout 4.5 liters.Equal to 6 standard bottles.
(Bordeaux / California wines)
5 litersEqual to about 6 3/4 standard bottles.
IMPERIAL6 litersEqual to 8 standard bottles.
METHUSALEM - This is what they call an "Imperial" in Champagne and Burgundy.
This one is a case of wine in one bottle.
9 liters
12 standard bottles.
12 liters.
Equal to 16 standard bottles.
12 to 16 liters
Depending on the country of origin this will be from 16 to 20 standard bottles. 



18 liters

27 Liters

30 liters

50 liters
24 bottles

  36 bottles 

40 bottles

 67 standard bottles

Big Bottle Display at Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou -
St Julien Beychevelle, Bordeaux

Birthyear vintage large format bottles
Served at daughter Erin's wedding

Six Liter Silver Oak Bonny's Vineyard 1990
in OWC - Serial #'s 41 & 44 -
Holding for son Alec's wedding
Standard Champagne Bottle Sizes

Bottle NameBottle EquivalencyCapacity
1/4 bottle
18.7 cl
1/2 bottle
37.5 cl
1 bottle
750 ml
2 bottles
1.5 l
4 bottles
3 l
6 bottles
4.5 l
8 bottles
6 l
12 bottles
9 l
16 bottles
12 l
20 bottles
15 l

Display of range of bottles offered at Moet Chandon Champagne House
in Epernay, Champagne, France
9 Liter Salmanazar
Served at daughter
Erin's wedding