Mar 14, 2015
Sometimes a bottle of wine is just a bottle of wine…but size does matters
In the mid-1600's, glass bottles began to be manufactured for use in everyday, albeit, upper-class life. What the Mesopotamians had invented, and the Romans had used, the British brought into mass production. Before glass bottles were used for wine, wine was shipped and dispensed from either amphorae or barrel. Neither are particularly easy to hoist over the dinner table. The first modern era glass bottles were purchased by the upper crust and often marked with a familial seal. The bottles varied in size so it was originally illegal in Britain to sell wines by the bottle. One took one's personal bottles to the wine merchant to be filled.
Industrialization put an end to gross variation, and current wine bottles were born. The British standard bottle was based on a 1.25 imperial pint. There was still some variation, enough that the EU began to enforce standardization in the 1970's. These are the most common uniform sizes standing today.
|Vol. Litre||# of Glasses||# Standard Btls||Name|
Two questions stand about these sizes:
What does bottle size mean to the buyer/drinker? For starters, smaller formats are usually proportionally slightly pricier than their standard (750 ml) brothers. Yet each size has a place at the table. Splits are great for convenience at picnics, airplanes, single drinkers, and breakfast. Wines found in this format are normally inexpensive, although a few larger Champagne houses bottle in this size. Halves are great for an early or late course at the dinner table where the wine served with the entrée would not be a compliment. At a dinner for two, the host may want to serve a glass Chablis with a fish course where the Bordeaux for the entrée. Restaurants make great use of half bottles for a table of two or three. At four people, use a standard bottle.
More than four at table at a simple two course meal? Here's where a magnum of a favorite wine works well. A magnum's ten five-ounce glasses translates to two drinks per person over an evening. Guests are impressed when they are see a non-mass marketed wine on your table. The perceived difference between a magnum and a 1.5 liter is often the wine is in the bottle.
We want Unwined U to be your go-to source for what's current and need-to-know in the wine world. Test your grape IQ with weekly lessons, tips and the occasional quiz, all from Unwined's Certified Sommelier Brett Chappell.