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About Bottle Sizes

I have always gotten a big kick out of the names given by the wine industry to various bottle sizes. Way back when, as bottle sizes were being created and named, vintners must really have believed that wine was the nectar of the gods, or at least, of the rulers who thought themselves gods. 

Let me just run through the list: 

  • Half-bottle
  • Standard bottle (750 ml.) 
  • Magnum - equivalent to 2 standard bottles
  • Jeruboam- equivalent to 4 bottles 
  • Rehboam - equivalent to 6 bottles 
  • Methuselah - equivalent to 8 bottles 
  • Salamanazar - equivalent to 12 bottles 
  • Balthazar - equivalent to16 bottles 
  • Nebuadnezzar - equivalent to 20 bottles 

Large bottles can be very special and are great for big events, happenings and special occasions. They are produced by almost every vineyard and not just as decoration in your local wine shop. 

Vineyards are happy to oblige anyone who desires them - for a price. Two bottles in one often costs more than two individual bottles. But the effect it has on your guests is often ten-fold! 

A word to the wise: When it comes to non-standard sized bottles, the best method to remove the cork is with a standard 'waiters corkscrew'. That's the corkscrew where you insert the spiral into the cork, hook the pivotal pry onto the lip of the bottle and pull using the pry as a fulcrum. The others will just not work. Cork sizes vary with bottle sizes and other corkscrews do not allow you to get the firm, secure grip in the center of the cork that is necessary for a clean uncorking.

Now a few words about the smaller wine containers, the so called half-bottles. They are not worthwhile. Not in price. Not in taste. I realize the attraction. You don't want to waste the wine, you are the only one drinking, the two of you will only need one glass each. Whatever the reason, go for the larger, standard bottle. Better to open a real standard bottle and to re-seal it than to waste money on a small, half-size bottle. The best way to re-seal wine is with the vac-u-vin, a cork and pump combination that pumps out unwanted air from the bottle as it secures the cork. If properly stored, wine will last a few days and be perfect when you desire another glass.

The problem is taste. The vineyards have a great deal of experience filling standard bottles and have nearly no experience filling half bottles. Much of the taste of wine is dependent on the amount of air combined with the mixture when it is filled into the bottle. The small bottles just do not get it correct. Do not buy them. These half bottles are simply a gimmick. They are never half the price and they are almost always very disappointing in taste. 

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