Nothing kicks off a dinner party better than a Magnum of wine. The bottle is impressive and presents beautifully. Guests feel festive immediately. But what are the advantages and disadvantages of large formats. And why all the unusual names?
The primary advantage of a larger bottle is that the wines actually age better. More wine in a container means less oxygen and sulfur dioxide in the bottle. This effect, in turn, helps the wine to age more slowly. Because the wine ages more gradually, it has a chance to develop more complexity. The thicker glass in large formats also helps to safeguard against temperature variations — the most critical factor in wine preservation and aging.
The most common bottle sizes available are these:
Standard – 750 milliliters
Magnum – 1.5 Liters. 2 bottles
Double Magnum or Jeroboam – 3.0 Liters. 4 bottles
Imperiale – 6 Liters. 8 bottles. Used for still wine.
Methuselah – 6.0 Liters. 8 bottles. Used for Champagne.
Salmanazar – 9.0 Liters. 12 bottles
On an even grander scale, we have these:
Balthazar – 12 Liters. 16 bottles
Nebuchadnezzar – 15 Liters. 20 bottles
Melchior – 18 Liters. 24 bottles
Solomon – 20 Liters. 26 bottles. Typically for Champagne only.