Bordeaux Wine Bottle Sizes – From Small to Large

Bordeaux Wine Bottle Sizes

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

NameSizeHow many bottles?How many glasses?
Piccolo0.2 L1 Glass
Chopine0.25 L1/3 Bottle2 Glasses
Fillette0.375 L1/2 Bottle3 Glasses
Boutelle0.75 L1 Bottle6 Glasses
Magnum1.5 L2 Bottles12 Glasses
Marie-Jeanne / Double Magnum3 L4 Bottles24 Glasses
Renoboam4.5 L6 Bottles36 Glasses
Jeroboam5 L6 3/4 Bottles40 Glasses
Mathusalem6 L8 Bottles48 Glasses
Salmanazar9 L 12 Bottles72 Glasses
Balthazar12 L16 Bottles96 Glasses
Nabuchodonosor15 L 20 Bottles120 Glasses
Melchior18 L24 Bottles148 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!

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