At a recent charity pub quiz held to raise funds for the fast-approaching London marathon, a question regarding wine bottle sizes was asked.
The question was something like, “A Mathusalem holds 6 litres of wine, how many standard bottles of wine is that?”.
To answer, it’s a simple maths puzzle:
Most oenophiles will know that a standard wine bottle holds 0.75cl ( 750ml ).
So that’s 6/0.75 = 8 bottles. Boom. 1 point please.
If you find it easier to work with whole numbers, you can move the decimal point easily enough thanks to the glory of the metric system.
This question got me thinking about the names of the other bottle sizes.
They have grand names derived from kings or notable historic legends, not withstanding their rarity in everyday life creating a sense of awe when seen.
Mathusalem for example must surely derive it’s name from Mathuselah, Noah’s Grandaddy who apparently lived to the ripe old age of 969.
But what about all the other sizes?
I discovered the names of Bordeaux wine bottle sizes from this poster which adorned the wall of a charming AirBnB I was staying at in the city.
Taken with the poster, the following magnet chose itself as a souvenir.
The magnet now serves as a useful reminder of wine bottle sizes to stick on the fridge (not that I’m likely to order any!).
Those Bordeaux bottle sizes in order, according to the magnet:
Bordeaux Wine Bottle Sizes
|Name||Size||How many bottles?||How many glasses?|
|Piccolo||0.2 L||1 Glass|
|Chopine||0.25 L||1/3 Bottle||2 Glasses|
|Fillette||0.375 L||1/2 Bottle||3 Glasses|
|Boutelle||0.75 L||1 Bottle||6 Glasses|
|Magnum||1.5 L||2 Bottles||12 Glasses|
|Marie-Jeanne / Double Magnum||3 L||4 Bottles||24 Glasses|
|Renoboam||4.5 L||6 Bottles||36 Glasses|
|Jeroboam||5 L||6 3/4 Bottles||40 Glasses|
|Mathusalem||6 L||8 Bottles||48 Glasses|
|Salmanazar||9 L||12 Bottles||72 Glasses|
|Balthazar||12 L||16 Bottles||96 Glasses|
|Nabuchodonosor||15 L||20 Bottles||120 Glasses|
|Melchior||18 L||24 Bottles||148 Glasses|
You’ll often see slightly different spellings of these, especially English words like Imperial instead of Imperiale, and in Champagne they use different bottles and names to those in Bordeaux.
An example being Jeroboam with sparkling wine holds 4 bottles, or 3 litres, as opposed to the Bordeaux size of 4.5 litres.
Another interesting thing to note is that in theory and in perfect conditions wine will age faster in a smaller bottle, as the cork/air to wine ratio is higher. You’ve got more air in contact with less wine.