Ever walk in to a wine bar or a restaurant and they’ve got these GIANT bottles of wine on the tables or shelves decorating the place? Ever stop and go “Daaaaayuhm, I could make good use of one of those!” and then wonder what to call them, or how many of your friends you’d need to get through “that” one? Well I am here clear up the mystery.
Wine bottles come in all sizes, and that’s what I’m going to talk about today- Size. And let me tell you boys…size DOES matter!
The smallest bottle you’ll see is most commonly called a split, but it’s also known as a piccolo or a pony. It’s 187 ml, which is essentially a 1/4 bottle of wine and will usually yield about a glass and a 1/2 sometimes less depending on the size of your glass. A split will come as sparkling wine but can also be found filled with white or red still wine. This is a great size to include in a gift basket or sneak into a movie theater…your choice.
The Half bottle is exactly what is says no guessing, it’s a half bottle of wine. It holds 375 ml or half of the standard sized bottle. In some circles it’s also known as a demi. A lot of the time you will see sweeter wines in one of these, like an Arrowood 05 late harvest White Reisling or an 03 Kiara Reserve Sangiovese port.
A Standard bottle, is what you see everywhere. Your average 750 ml bottle of wine. It holds anywhere for 4-5 glasses of wine depending on glass size or how generous the pour. Of course if you have a big Carl glass like they have on the t.v. show Cougar town then only one glass will have to do.
Getting into the bigger bottles the first one is a Magnum, meaning “great”. A Magnum contains two bottles or 1.5 litres and is the start of a GREAT party. Some experts believe that a wine will age more gracefully in a Magnum, allowing it to develop complexities that a smaller bottle can’t. It became a tradition for French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte to sabre the tops of Magnum bottles before battle. If it came off cleanly on the first try it was good luck and meant victory if it didn’t? Well, one word “Waterloo”.
The big brother to the Magnum is even more popular at a party, Double Magnum or Jeroboam. It’s twice the size of a Magnum and holds 4 bottles of sparkling wine or 3.0 liters. Interestingly enough with regards to “still” (red, white, rose) wine a Jeroboam will hold 4.5 liters or 6 standard bottles. Jeroboam gets its name from the first King of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and has different meanings/sizes in France depending on the region.
A Rehoboam is used in Champagne only and will hold the equivalent of 6 bottles or 4.5 liters. So to recap a Jeroboam will hold 6 bottles of “still” wine and a Rehoboam will hold 6 bottles of Sparkling. Also named for a King of Israel, Rehoboam was the son of Solomon and grandson of David. Even though the bottle is not pictured above I felt it was an important addition, because after all, it is in the title of the blog!
Next comes the ALL important Methuselah who holds 8 bottles which adds up to 6 liters. Methuselah is also used primarily for Sparkling wines. One of the benefit’s of this size bottle, aside from a lotta dang champagne, is it allows for a controlled exposure to a small amount of oxygen and helps reduce the amount of time that is required for the wine’s maturation.
Ok, now we are coming into the massive wine bottles and the home stretch. Next?
Salmanazar the holder of 12, the dozen, the number of Olympians , the ever popular number of planets, and in this case- 12 bottles of wine. Yes, Salmanazar holds a whole 9 liters, or 12 bottles, the equivalent of a full case of wine. The name Salmanazar originated in the 1930s and is a derivative of Shalmaneser, one of the Ancient Kings of Assyria.
#2 Balthazar! Whoot, Whoot #2! Now, aside from being the name of Balthazar Getty, great grandson of Jean Paul Getty, it is also a GINORMOUS bottle of Bubbly! Balthazar holds 12.0 liters or 16 bottles of wine, and is named after one of the Biblical Magi. Which makes perfect sense when you think about it, because you bring this bottle to a party and something magic happens- you suddenly become everyone’s best friend!
Lastly (at least for the purposes of this blog) and certainly NOT least, the Grandaddy of them ALL…Nebuchadnezzar! The name Nebuchadnezzar refers to the fact that he is the biggest king size, as opposed to Balthazar that simply refers to king, in this standard listing. This guy is usually for show or decoration, but you can buy one at a specialty wine store or online. However it is my opinion that most bottles are given to retailers as gifts from the winery to display in their establishments. Nebbie holds 20 bottles of wine equal to 15.0 liters.
“In victory, you deserve Champagne, in defeat, you need it.” (Napoleon Bonaparte)
I would like to thank these websites for their contributions to this blog post:
http://www.ehow.com/about_4685471_how-large-magnum-wine.html – Laura Reynolds, eHow Contributor
http://www.getwinesdirect1.com/wine-bottle-sizes.html – for the picture