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The Size Of Wine Bottles

 

The size of wine bottles

Having recently heard someone ask another person at a wine tasting what is a Jéroboam, it seems it’s a good time to review wine bottle sizes. The traditional “standard” size found on local supermarket and wine store shelves is the 750ml. Most consumers also know the half-bottle or "split" that contains 375ml of wine. There are a number of legally permitted ‘large format’ bottles with names of biblical kings and wise men. Why biblical kings? Could it have been an inside joke among wine-producing monks? Or, was it because the biblical names impart grandeur to the bottles. Whatever the reason, it can be confusing.

In France, the same names can refer to different size bottles in different regions. Outside of France, large formats tend to be magnums and follow the Burgundy terminology. Bordeaux bottle terminology seems to be restricted to Bordeaux, but Bordeaux collectors favor large format Bordeaux bottles, particularly the eight-bottle Impériale. This is because the small ullage (the amount space between the cork and the wine in the bottle). A small air:wine ratio seems to favor slow development of the wine when compared with smaller format bottles.

Basically bottle sizes are as follows:

  • The Piccolo, which means "small" in Italian, and holds 1875ml. It’s also known as a split, quart, pony, or snipe.
  • The Demi, or Half-Bottle holds 375 ml or one-half of the standard 750ml-bottle size.
  • 750 ml or Standard Bottles is your average wine bottle and holds 750ml. These bottles typically measure about three inches at the bottom and ranges from 11.5 to 12 inches tall.
  • A Magnum holds 1.5 liters of wine and is equivalent to two standard bottles. Magnums often have slightly different shapes based on the wine to be bottled, such as Champagne, Bordeaux or Burgundy. The dimensions of the magnum bottle vary slightly depending on the type of bottle; but most are about 14 inches tall and a about four inches wide at the base.
  • The Marie Jeanne holds 2.25 liters and is equivalent to three bottles.
  • Next are the Double magnums which hold three liters of wine. It’s twice the size of a magnum— four (750 ml) bottles.
  • Named after the biblical first king of the Northern Kingdom, a Jéroboam is where it becomes confusing. The Jéroboam (also known as a Double-Magnum) is 3 Liters in Champagne (4 Standard Bottles), and in Bordeaux, a Jéroboam is 4.5 Liters or 6 bottles of wine. The bottle dimensions average about 19.5 inches tall and five inches wide.
  • The Rehoboam is named after a king of Judah, son of Solomon. This bottle is also 4.5 Liters and is primarily used for Champagne.
  • The next biggest bottle holding six liters or, about eight bottles of wine, is the Methuselah. Standing around 22 inches tall, a Methuselah is Burgundy-shaped and usually used for sparkling wines. The Imperial is the same size and volume as the Methuselah, but tends to be Bordeaux-shaped.
  • Standing just over two feet tall and holding about 9 liters of wine is the Salmanazar. Named after a biblical Assyrian king it’s equivalent to one case (12 bottles) of wine.
  • The wise Balthazar holds 12 liters of wine or 16 bottles and measures in at about 28 inches tall.
  • Holding a whopping 20 bottles of wine, or about 15 liters—that’s 160 glasses—a Nebuchadnezzar averages around 31 inches tall.
  • You will have to search for a Melchoir—an 18 liter (24 bottle) monster. Think about it, that’s two cases of wine.
  • The Solomon, named after the biblical king of Israel, yields 20 liters, the equivalent of about 27 standard-sized bottles of wine.
  • The Sovereign contains approximately 25 liters or 33.3 bottles of wine and the Primat contains 27 liters or 36 bottles (three cases) of wine in one gigantic bottle.

Finally, the biggest of them all, is the Melchizedek. A Melchidezek holds a whopping 30 liters of wine or 40 bottles.

If you consider that one gallon of wine weighs almost nine pounds, it’s easy to see how unwieldy some of these large wine bottles can be. They are certainly not practical for everyday use but they make some truly memorable display pieces in wine cellars and restaurants.

Many of these largest wine bottles  are rarely made and rarely sold. Magnums are plentiful, double magnums less so, and the larger sized aren’t sold very often…anywhere. Think about it, just how would you pick up and serve the wine out of a 36-liter bottle (324 pounds) of wine such as a primat?

Having recently heard someone ask another person at a wine tasing what is a Jéroboam, it seems it’s a good time to review wine bottle sizes. The traditional “standard” size found on local supermarket and wine store shelves is the 750ml. Most consumers also know the half-bottle or "split" that contains 375ml of wine. There are a number of legally permitted ‘large format’ bottles with names of biblical kings and wise men. Why biblical kings? Could it have been an inside joke among wine-producing monks? Or, was it because the biblical names impart grandeur to the bottles. Whatever the reason, it can be confusing.

In France, the same names can refer to different size bottles in different regions. Outside of France, large formats tend to be magnums and follow the Burgundy terminology. Bordeaux bottle terminology seems to be restricted to Bordeaux, but Bordeaux collectors favor large format Bordeaux bottles, particularly the eight-bottle Impériale. This is because the small ullage (the amount space between the cork and the wine in the bottle). A small air:wine ratio seems to favor slow development of the wine when compared with smaller format bottles.

Basically bottle sizes are as follows:

  • The Piccolo, which means "small" in Italian, and holds 1875ml. It’s also known as a split, quart, pony, or snipe.
  • The Demi, or Half-Bottle holds 375 ml or one-half of the standard 750ml-bottle size.
  • 750 ml or Standard Bottles is your average wine bottle and holds 750ml. These bottles typically measure about three inches at the bottom and ranges from 11.5 to 12 inches tall.
  • A Magnum holds 1.5 liters of wine and is equivalent to two standard bottles. Magnums often have slightly different shapes based on the wine to be bottled, such as Champagne, Bordeaux or Burgundy. The dimensions of the magnum bottle vary slightly depending on the type of bottle; but most are about 14 inches tall and a about four inches wide at the base.
  • The Marie Jeanne holds 2.25 liters and is equivalent to three bottles.
  • Next are the Double magnums which hold three liters of wine. It’s twice the size of a magnum— four (750 ml) bottles.
  • Named after the biblical first king of the Northern Kingdom, a Jéroboam is where it becomes confusing. The Jéroboam (also known as a Double-Magnum) is 3 Liters in Champagne (4 Standard Bottles), and in Bordeaux, a Jéroboam is 4.5 Liters or 6 bottles of wine. The bottle dimensions average about 19.5 inches tall and five inches wide.
  • The Rehoboam is named after a king of Judah, son of Solomon. This bottle is also 4.5 Liters and is primarily used for Champagne.
  • The next biggest bottle holding six liters or, about eight bottles of wine, is the Methuselah. Standing around 22 inches tall, a Methuselah is Burgundy-shaped and usually used for sparkling wines. The Imperial is the same size and volume as the Methuselah, but tends to be Bordeaux-shaped.
  • Standing just over two feet tall and holding about 9 liters of wine is the Salmanazar. Named after a biblical Assyrian king it’s equivalent to one case (12 bottles) of wine.
  • The wise Balthazar holds 12 liters of wine or 16 bottles and measures in at about 28 inches tall.
  • Holding a whopping 20 bottles of wine, or about 15 liters—that’s 160 glasses—a Nebuchadnezzar averages around 31 inches tall.
  • You will have to search for a Melchoir—an 18 liter (24 bottle) monster. Think about it, that’s two cases of wine.
  • The Solomon, named after the biblical king of Israel, yields 20 liters, the equivalent of about 27 standard-sized bottles of wine.
  • The Sovereign contains approximately 25 liters or 33.3 bottles of wine and the Primat contains 27 liters or 36 bottles (three cases) of wine in one gigantic bottle.

Finally, the biggest of them all, is the Melchizedek. A Melchidezek holds a whopping 30 liters of wine or 40 bottles.

If you consider that one gallon of wine weighs almost nine pounds, it’s easy to see how unwieldy some of these large wine bottles can be. They are certainly not practical for everyday use but they make some truly memorable display pieces in wine cellars and restaurants.

Many of these largest wine bottles  are rarely made and rarely sold. Magnums are plentiful, double magnums less so, and the larger sized aren’t sold very often…anywhere. Think about it, just how would you pick up and serve the wine out of a 36-liter bottle (324 pounds) of wine such as a primat?

5 Responses to “The Size Of Wine Bottles”

  1. Great post again! Great content and explanation. Thanks man, hope it helps!

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