Wine bottles…Why bigger IS better!

2005_OakvilleRanch_6L Recently I was fortunate enough to try wine from a pretty large bottle. The wine was a 6L (holds 8 bottles) 2005 Oakville Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine was bursting of red/black fruit, especially cassis, had an excellent mid-palate and a long ROUND finish. I couldn’t believe how soft this wine tasted. I then asked the owner how long the bottle had been open. “Two days”, he replied “and it is finally drinking really well”. “Very tannic when we first opened it”.

So what is it with BIG bottles of wine? They are very hard to store. They are generally difficult to find. They almost ALWAYS cost more than if you had bought the single bottles, separately.

There are obvious fun factors– they are cool to break out at parties and it is entertaining to watch someone pour from the really large ones. However there are some very important reasons to go big…

1. The larger bottles are uncommon, wines in large bottles command higher prices because there are much fewer large bottles than regular size bottles. These bottles can command triple or quadruple value when sold at auction, so they generally are very good investments.

2. Wine in a larger bottle ages better. A big wine bottle has less oxygen relative to the volume of wine, which means that the wine oxidizes more slowly. Slower oxidation promotes longer aging and slower and better maturation. This, in turn, effects aromas, and the overall stability of the wine, yielding wine that can age longer.

3. They are usually filled with better wine. Historically the more tannic wine, from the best barrels would be placed in the larger bottles. Tannin is a preservative so after the wine has fully aged these wines are fresher when opened.


Impress your friends- bottle sizes

(Burgundy style bottles pictured above for reference).

187.5 ml Piccolo or Split: one-fourth standard bottle size- typically used for a single serving of Champagne.

375 ml Demi or HALF: Holds one-half of the standard 750 ml size.

*500 ml / 50 cl Jennie- used for Tokaj, Sauternes, Jerez and other sweet (dessert) wines.

750 ml STANDARD: Common bottle size for most wines. A bottle provides between 4 and 6 glasses of wine.

1.5 L MAGNUM: 2 standard 750 ml bottles.

3.0 L Double Magnum: 4 standard 750 ml bottles.

4.5 L JEROBOAM: 6 standard 750 ml bottles.

6.0 L Imperial: 8 standard 750 ml bottles.

9.0 L SALMANAZAR: 12 standard bottles or a full case of wine!

12.0 L BALTHAZAR: 16 standard 750 ml bottles.

15.0 L NEBUCHADNEZZAR: 20 standard 750 ml bottles.

18.0 L MELCHOIR:  24 standard 750 ml bottles.

Champagne only:

20.0 L Solomon: 26 standard 750 ml bottles.

25.0 L Sovereign: 33.3 standard 750 ml bottles.

27.0 L Goliath or Primat: 36 standard 750 ml bottles.

30.0 L Melchizedek:  40 standard 750 ml bottles.


The names of the various wine bottle sizes:

If you want to read the origin of the bottle names-click.

What’s the largest bottle you have ever purchased or served?

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