A Complete Guide to Wine Bottle Sizes With Pictures - Wine Turtle

A Complete Guide to Wine Bottle Sizes With Pictures

This post was updated on: November 1, 2018

A Complete Guide to Wine Bottle Sizes With Pictures

A Complete Guide to Wine Bottle Sizes With Pictures

Most people are unaware that while there are several different wine bottle sizes, each bottle actually has a specific type of wine that it was intended to hold.  While you may not have realized it, different sizes of wine bottles each have their own purpose.  This information can be very interesting for the casual wine lover out there, but is extremely useful for people involved in winemaking.

The usage of various sizes of bottles for different types of wine has been embraced for a very long time, dating back to at least the 17th century.  Back then, wine was stored in bottles according to how the wine was utilized. 

Wine that was considered to be very helpful to the wellbeing of the drinker was stored in small sized bottles, signifying their importance.  Wines that were considered to be average were stored in medium sized bottles.  Since those times, there have been professionally accepted wine bottle sizes that have been developed and accepted by winemakers and wine drinkers alike.

Due to the popularity of small sized wine bottles, half size wine bottles developed much faster than their large size counterparts.  Half size wine bottles are better suited for wine that is not intended to be aged for a long time. 

Large size wine bottles, due to the thickness of their glass and the quantity of wine able to be stored within the bottle, is not as likely to experience temperature change as much as small size bottles, are able to age wine better.

Why Different Wine Bottle Sizes Exist

Different wine bottle sizes on white background

There are a number of reasons as to why wine bottles come in different sizes.  Perhaps the most common reason is that by presenting the wine in different sizes of bottles, consumers will be better able to select the quantity of wine that they want for a particular occasion. 

Another reason is due to the winemakers themselves, who believe that different sized bottles are necessary for proper pricing and for meeting the many different consumer needs.  Another reason is that different sized bottles appeal to different classes of consumers.  Some may want a bottle that is portable, attractive and maybe even fashionable. 

As with many other consumer goods, if there is a need or want for a certain bottle, then most likely there will be a bottle made to accommodate this need.

If you are asking yourself why there is a necessity of having different sizes of wine bottles, one of the reasons would be for the purpose of the storage of the bottles themselves, as wine bottles have a specific way that they can be stored.  Only certain size bottles may be able to fit inside of your refrigerator if they are standing up, others may have to be stored on their sides.

If you have a wine cellar, or you work at a restaurant that has a wine cellar, it is important to know what wines you will be stocking, and what size bottles they come in.  You will want the flexibility to be able to accommodate several different size wine bottles, so that you can make sure that you can adequately store all of your favorites.  Perhaps you even have a wine bottle rack that you use in your home.  If you intend to store a newly purchased wine on this rack, you must know the sizes of the bottles that your tack will accommodate.

Before we get into the descriptions of the various wine bottle sizes and what they hold, it is essential to briefly explain the basics of wine bottle sizes.  The common term used to describe a medium sized wine bottle is “standard.”  Standard bottles will hold 750 ml of wine, which will be the most common sized bottle you will find at your local store that sells wine.  When the standard wine bottle is divided into two halves, you get half a standard bottle, or what can be called the half wine bottle. 

These are equivalent to 375 ml bottles, and can be known as a “split” or even a “Demi”.  Larger wine bottles, which can hold 1.5 liters of wine are referred to as “Magnum.”  When the Magnum is doubled in size, the bottle is called a “Jeroboam,” which holds 3 liters of wines.  There are even larger sized bottles of wine that hold six, nine, twelve and fifteen liters.  The 15 liter bottle is known as a “Nebuchadnezzar.” 

These larger sized bottles are considerably rare, as they are not easily found in your common supermarket or grocery store.  Most often they will be found at auctions as they are considered to be collectibles.

Historical Facts About Wine Bottle Sizes and Their Nomenclature

wine bottles

There is a long history and much information available pertaining to the design of wine bottles, the various sizes of wine bottles, and the usage of specific wine bottles to store certain wines.  One of the most important things to note is the way bottles are named, as one of the aspects that comes up with the names of the bottles is the quantity that each distinct wine bottle holds. 

Many of these names have a Biblical significance or origin.  The question we could be asking ourselves is why certain types of bottles were named after kings such as Jeroboam and Rehoboam. 

This could be associated with each king’s character, lifestyle and values.  For instance, Jeroboam is a king that was considered to be of a higher class compared to the other kings, and he loved his things to be of a unique design.  Along these lines, the Jeroboam wine bottle size is key in class identification.

The naming of different wine bottle sizes dates back to the 17th century.  A common belief, and commonly so, is that the bigger the bottle the larger the quantity that it holds.  This may be an incorrect perception towards understanding the idea behind the wine bottle sizes.  The larger the size of the bottle of wine, the higher the quality of the wine it holds rather than the quantity.  Another reason is due to the surface area of air volume between the cork and the wine in larger wine bottles. 

In other words, the ratio of the surface to air in the larger bottles is smaller providing a smaller “ullage” in this context, the wines in large bottles do age more slowly as compared to smaller wine bottles which are believed to have a larger ullage.  The science behind smaller and larger bottles is based on the fact that the larger bottles allow very little oxygen in the space between the wine and the cork, thus allowing the wine to age and develop over a long period of time.

It is also important to know why the larger wine bottles are named after Biblical names, as the names are traced throughout Biblical history.  It is thought that the usage of Biblical names in wine bottle sizes started back in 1724 when the first winemakers started to use the name Jeroboam to refer to the four bottle size that still exists today. 

Jeroboam was a Biblical king of Israel who was believed to be a man of great worth, hence the name of the valuable bottle of wine named for him.  The naming of the larger bottles of wine continued to adopt Biblical names until 1940 when the largest known bottle of wine was named “Melchizadek.”  There is no tangible information that gives a precise reason as to why the different sizes of wine bottles are named after Biblical figures.

Other Important Facts About Wine Bottle Sizes

Colored Bottle Tree Bottles

It is not enough to discuss the different sizes of wine bottles.  There are also various distinctive shapes of bottles that wine is regularly packaged in.  At the point when wine was first bottled, bottles were not a standard fit. 

The explanation behind this is at that time, all wine bottels were made one standard bottle at a time by glass blowers.  Early wine bottles looked odd, these were called onion molded bottles, and were very difficult to stack.  Since these onion molded containers were made one at a time, the size shifted, with the most prevalent size being somewhere in the range of 700ml and 800ml.

Those sizes were both simple to convey, easy to store, and held the perfect measure of wine for two individuals.  Today, while there is a fluctuation in wine bottle shapes, the three most generally used wine bottle depend on the Bordeaux bottle with its tall shoulders, profound punt and straight sides. 

The slanted shoulders help trap the silt while the punt adds quality to the development of the bottle.  Bordeaux formed bottles take into account ease in stacking and cellaring.  The Bordeaux molded wine bottle was made in France in the mid-1700’s.  Champagne bottles were made to upgrade both the magnificence of the bottle shape and for commonsense reasons.

Commonsense becomes an integral factor in Champagne on the grounds that the wine bottles should have been more grounded because of the weights originating from the bubbling and effervescence in Champagne. 

While Champagne bottles are clearly identified with the pear formed, the Burgundy bottle is additionally extraordinary.  Champagne bottles are generally somewhat bigger and heavier with more profound punts for the reasons we made reference to.  The jugs were designed while winemakers learned how to deliver Champagne in 1662. 

A few Champagne makers have made their own remarkable licensed Champagne bottle shapes to enable their products to emerge as the best.

Different Wine Bottle Sizes and Their Uses

It is of great importance to also mention that the naming of the wine bottle sizes does differ from one region to another in terms of their usage, especially in France and Italy.  As much as the size of the wine bottle will matter, the shape of the bottle is critical too.  The shapes of the bottle will depend on the region it was manufactured, and for wine lovers, it is important to know the origin of the wine due to shapes. 

For instance, the Bordeaux bottle which is commonly known for its tall shoulder, deep punt and straight shoulders.  On the other hand, the Burgundy is wider as compared to the Bordeaux and features sloping shoulders whereas the wine bottles from Germany are characterized by long necks.

In summation, these styles are based on the tradition and market demand, but they do not compromise the original size of the bottle, quantity and quality, and the difference is also brought up by the fact that different wines do originate from different places in the world. 

Now that you have some knowledge of the different sizes of wine bottles and their shapes, it is ideal to discuss the relationship between the different wine bottle sizes together with what they are used for or the type of wine that they are used to hold.

The greatest challenge comes in storing the bottles, without even considering the shapes.  Champagne bottles are easily stored, but the problem arises when the Melchizedek that accommodates up to 40 standard bottles, needs to be stored. 

Now let’s look at the various wine bottle sizes and give more details regarding their usage, shapes and other critical facts.   The commonly known wine bottle sizes are as follows, starting from the smallest and working up to the largest.

0.1875L – Piccolo

Piccolo is a word that means small in Italian, and basically it is the smallest wine bottle size that has been used throughout history.  The name may vary depending on the region it is used and the people that use it.  These other names that refer to the Piccolo wine bottle include the spine, split, pony and quarter bottle.  The Piccolo holds a quarter of the wine that a standard bottle holds.  The Piccolo has been used for a long time and can be used to hold Champagne.

0.2L – Quarter

It is a little bit confusing for an amateur to understand this wine bottle size.  It is important to confirm that this is a standard quarter of the normal wine bottle (Standard).  The distinction between “Quarter” and “Piccolo” is slight, but always refers to the quantities they hold.  The quarter bottle holds .226% of a standard 750ml wine bottle.  The difference is based on the percentage and decimals of the liters it holds.  Generally, it holds a slightly larger amount of Champagne.

0.25L – Chopine

In France, it is a conventional unit to be equivalent to one-third of a standard wine bottle.  This size bottle is normally embraced in France, but is not so in other regions of the world.  Generally, it matches a traditional wine in France, and is used to hold Bordeaux wine which originates in France.  This label is also a quagmire in this wine bottle size, as it is indicated as a quarter.  The difference between the quarter and the Chopine is not great, but it needs a critical eye and understanding of quantities.  A Chopine holds a slightly higher percentage as compared to a quarter.  For this understanding, it is supposed to be one third of a standard bottle.

0.5L – Demi

“Demi” is a word from France meaning a half, and it is exactly half of the standard bottle of wine.  This is the most widely used wine bottle size in the world compared to the rest that follows it below, other than the standard wine bottle.  It is normally used to hold three types of wine, namely the Champagne, Burgundy and Bordeaux.  Under this category, we have a slightly different size known as the “Demie”.  It is also 0.5L, but the difference comes in its usage.  The Demie wine bottle size was diesigned for the purpose of holding Champagne only and other sweet wines.  It is also known as the “Pinte.”

0.62L – Clavelin

It is mostly used for the yellow wine which is also known as the “Vin Jaune” which is very similar to the dry sherry.  Since the 17th century, the Clavelin wine bottle size has always been produced in eastern France and is the first smallest size after the standard win bottle and is almost 80% of the normal wine bottle size.

0.75L – Standard

The standard wine bottle size is used for all types of wines: reds, whites, roses, and Champagne.  This bottle comes in many different shapes, as different producers attempt to make their bottles the most beautiful of all.  The other reason as to why the producers want to make their standard bottle shape different is to make it unique and more easily identified in the market.  Generally the standard bottle is the most widely used wine bottle size globally.  This is the normal size of wine bottles in general, and in some parts of the world, standard bottles are used as a standard of measure.

1 Liter

The liter wine bottle size may seem to be common, but it is only common to specific parts of the world, primarily in Australia.  It is not as common in other parts of the world that produce wine, so it is clear that when you sport a liter on a shelf, chances of the wine being from Australia are rather high.  It is also commonly known to store other wines, especially red and white wine. 

1.5L – Magnum

The Magnum wine bottle size is associated with a certain meaning in the wine world, as mentioned earlier, the larger the size of the wine bottle, the higher the quality due to the ullage and the period of aging.  Many people consider the Magnum to be the largest bottle suitable for high-quality Champagne.  This fine sparkling wine is most often fermented in Magnum sized bottles of smaller.  Apart form Champagne, the Magnum wine bottle size is also used for the storage of wines from Burgundy and Bordeaux.

2.25L – Marie Jeanne

This wine bottle size is equivalent to three standard bottles of 0.75L, hence the mark of 2.25L.  It is commonly used for port wine and is sometimes referred to as Tregnum in some parts of the world.  This bottle size can also be used for Bordeaux wine.

3 L – Jeroboam

The three liter Jeroboam wine bottle is mainly used for Champagne, and may actually be anywhere from 3 liters to 4.5 liters, as the size of the bottle may vary around the world, and especially in France.  This bottle can also be used for Bordeaux and Burgundy.  It is large enough to fill thirty glasses of wine and is equivalent to six standard 0.75 Liter bottles.  The bottle is ideal for those who are holding a large party for approximately 15 to 20 guests.  In some wineries this bottle is also called a double magnum.

4.5 L – Rehoboam

This bottle is the same size as the largest Jeroboam, and is the name given to a 4.5 liter bottle of wine outside of the Bordeaux region of France.  This bottle can also be used for Champagne.  In the recent past, there have not been many changes in its usage, and it is well known for holding Champagne.

5 L – McKenzie

Almost exclusively found in France and rarely found in other parts of the world, the McKenzie wine bottle size is 6.67 times the size of a standard 0.75 liter bottle.  This bottle is most commonly used for Bordeaux wines.

6 L – Imperial

Just as the name suggests, it looks bigger and sounds larger.  With a name like Imperial, it is not difficult to be impressed with the size of this wine bottle, and we are not even near the top end of our scale.  At eight times the size of a standard bottle, this alternate holds one Imperial gallon on wine.  It has been referred to by wine experts as a universal wine bottle size because it holds almost all types of wine, but it has been almost used exclusively for Champagne.

9 L – Salmanazar

This wine bottle size has been named after the Biblical king of Assyria.  This large bottle holds 9 liters of wine and it is used to hold wine varieties such as Champagne, Bordeaux and Burgundy.  For the Salmanazar bottle, you get the equivalent of 12 standard sized bottles and 72 glasses of wine.  These are often used for large gatherings of 50 guests or more.

12 L – Balthazar

If you are thinking of hosting a party, this is the ideal wine bottle size that you should consider for the occasion, and is primarily known to be used for Champagne and Bordeux wine.

15 L – Nebuchadnezzar

This wine bottle size is never specific, in France it is used for Bordeaux wine and in the United States it is used for Champagne.  It is one of the largest wine bottles known today, with a capacity of 15 liters which is 20 times the standard wine bottle.  It is named after the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar.  For those occasions that a large number of people are expected to attend, Nebuchadnezzar is the best recommendation regardless of the type of wine you prefer of the two.

18 L – Melchior

Named after the three wise men who offered valuable gifts on their visits, it is associated with gifts.  If you are thinking of offering the best as a gift to a party, occasion or event, the Melchoir wine bottle size is ideal for you.  It is used for Champagne and Bordeaux and Burgundy wines.

26.25 L – Sovereign

This is the first bottle of wine to not have followed the traditional way of naming wine bottles.  The sovereign wine bottle is named after a cruise ship.  Invented by Taittinger in 1988, it is at a capacity of 26.25 liters, and was used during the launch of the world’s largest cruise ship.  It is used for Champagne.

27 L – Goliath

Almost the largest wine bottle size, the Goliath is a bottle whose name indicates its enormous volume may be from the size of the real Goliath.  Goliath was the massive warrior defeated by David.  This wine bottle can contain wines from the Bordeaux region as well as Champagne.

30 L – Melchizedek

A 30 Liter holding capacity bottle size, this wine bottle size is considered to be an accomplishment of engineering and is considered to be one of the rarest bottle sizes to be found in the world.  When produced, the Melchizedek contains Champagne, although it must be handled with care, as wine bottles of this size have been known to be explosive.  At the moment, it is known to only hold Champagne.

Conclusion

It is important to keep up with the latest in the wine industry.  The above mentioned wine bottle sizes are both well-known and also obscure.  Enjoy the wine you like best, and appreciate the bottle that it comes in.

About the Author

Although not having any formal training in wine, Tim has developed an irrefutable love wine and interest in anything related to it ever since he was a little kid. Coming from a family of wine lovers, it was from a young age that he got exposed to wine and the culture that goes with it and has been addicted ever since. Having traveled to dozens of wine regions across the world including those in France, Italy, California, Australia, and South Africa and tasted a large selection of their wines, it is with great joy that he hopes to share those experiences here and take you along on the journey.

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