Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Size Matters

We have all seen the standard 750ml wine bottle, the 1 liter and the 1.5 liter.

Some of you might have even purchased a "split" or half-bottle of a sweet dessert wine.

But unless you "hang" with some high rollers, professional athletes, or movie / rock stars, I'm betting you have never seen these size bottles of Champagne. The number in bold is the number of standard size bottles in each of these formats.

Magnum (TV private detective, 1980's). 2

Jeroboam (Founder and first king of Israel, 931-910 BC) 4

Rehoboam, son of Solomon (King of Judah, 922-908 BC) 6

Methuselah (Biblical patriarch who lived to the age of 969) 8

Salmanazar (King of Assyria, 859-824 BC) 12

Balthazar (Regent of Babylon, son of Nabonide, 539BC) 16

Nebuchadnezzar (King of Babylon, 605-562 BC) 20

A useful mnemonic for these big bottle sizes is:

My Julie Really Makes Splendid Belching Noises

Big bottles have a novelty value, but because of the difficulty in moving such a large mass for riddling and disgorgement,(see earlier post about how champagne is made) in most cases the secondary fermentation is carried out in magnums. The wine is then decanted into the larger bottles. This inevitably results in a loss of pressure. Some would say that there is a chance of more oxidation as a result of this, and that Champagne from a giant bottle is inferior to that from the magnum from which it was fermented. (See, size really does matter!)