You probably noticed that most wine bottles contain 750 ml of wine. But have you ever bought a magnum or a jéroboam ? Wait... you don’t know what these words mean ?
A rare jeroboam bottle of Château Mouton Rothschild 1953
Today, let’s take a look at the various sizes of wine bottles !
Why is 750 ml the norm ?
Why didn’t we choose 1 liter or 500 ml as the standard ?
The origin goes back to the 17th century and is credited to the English merchants based in Bordeaux. Back then, wine bottles were not standardized and different wineries would bottle their wines in different bottles with different sizes.
Obviously, this was a nightmare for the merchants for logistics and calculation reasons. One day, the English merchants had the brimming idea to fix a standard size to make their lives easier and to ship the wines back to England.
Back then, the oak barrels used in Bordeaux for fermentation and maturation (and sometimes also for transportation) had a capacity of 225 liters - which is still the case today. The merchants had to find a round number to easily calculate how many bottles could be contained in a barrel, therefore they chose 750 ml. Each barrel could then contain 300 bottles. That’s easy to remember ! That became the norm until now, and is today ruled by European law.
The other bottle sizes
Now, let’s see what are the other bottle sizes. Be ready for weird-looking names, which for most of them take their origins in the Bible. We have put together two guides : one for Champagne and one for Bordeaux, as these two regions set the standards in the world for bigger bottle formats, with slight differences between them.
By the way, it’s worth mentioning wines bottled in bigger bottles age better. Indeed, they are less subject to temperature change in the cellar, and the risk of oxidation is reduced, since the volume of wine is bigger while the neck of the bottle keeps roughly the same size on bigger formats and smaller ones.
A half-bottle next to a normal one
In addition to these, there are also smaller bottle sizes such as the half-bottle (375 ml) or the piccolo (200 ml).
How about the biggest bottle in the world ?
The Guinness World Record for the largest bottle of wine is 4.17 m tall, 1.21 m in diameter and was filled with 3,094 litres of wine by André Vogel (Switzerland, 2014). However, the tallest wine bottle in the world is from Shenyang, Liaoning, which is 4.5 m tall and contains 1850 liters of ice wine (see photo above) !
Click on the picture if you’re curious about wine bottles shapes :
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