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Wine Bottle Sizes

Whereas it isn't really necessary to have any knowledge of wine bottles in
order to appreciate wine, the bottles are vitally important. A glass bottle,
sealed with a cork or other device, is undoubtedly preferable for the storage
and transport of wine than the alternatives, which once included wooden barrels,
amphorae or even animal skins. Glass is inert, and together with the cork seal
(putting aside the terrible problem of cork taint just for one moment) it
provides an excellent environment for the long ageing that some wines demand.
The colouring of the glass also aids, in a small way, in the protection of the
wine from potentially damaging light, although of course there's no substitute
for storing your wine in a cool, dark cellar

Wine Bottle Sizes

As well as the traditional (in many cases, legally required) 750ml bottle
(the standard size to be found on supermarket and wine merchants shelves), and
the useful half-bottle (containing 375ml of wine), there are a number of legally
permitted 'large format' bottles. Many of these are named after biblical kings
(I've never found out why that is). Most confusingly, however, the same name may
be used to refer to different size bottles in different regions of France. Here
are the large format bottlings commonly referred to.

Bottle Equivalent             Bordeaux Bottle Size         Burgundy/Champagne Bottle Size

TWO (1.5L)                   MAGNUM                             MAGNUM

THREE (2.25L)              MARIE-JEANNE                    NA

FOUR (3.0L)                  DOUBLE MAGNUM              JEROBOAM

SIX (4.5L)                      JEROBOAM                          REHOBOAM

EIGHT (6.0L)                 IMPERIALE                           METHUSALEH

TWELVE (9.0L)             NA                                        SALMANAZAR

SIXTEEN (12.0L)           NA                                        BALTHAZAR

TWENTY (15.0L)           NA                                       NEBUCHADNEZZAR


Other regions of France, Europe, and the New World also bottle some wine in
large formats, particularly magnums. For larger bottlings, most tend to follow
the Burgundy terminology, and consequently some Jéroboams (four bottles) may be
found. The Bordeaux terminology seems quite restricted to that region alone.
Large format bottles are popular with Bordeaux collectors, particularly the
eight-bottle Impériale. This is because the small amount of air in the bottle
(between the cork and the wine) and a large amount of wine results in a small
air:wine ratio, and this would seem to favour slow development of the wine when
compared with smaller formats. The same cannot be said of large format bottles
of Champagne, as these are really only for show, and in general, other than the
commonly encountered magnums, they are filled using wine poured from single
750ml bottles prior to sale
There are a few other bottle sizes permitted, although none have individual
names, unlike the formats above. The only other commonly encountered size is the
500ml bottle, used for some Ports designed for drinking young, and Tokay, the
famous sweet wine of Hungary.

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