Going from being a wine lover to connoisseur might seem like a big step. Appearance, bouquet, taste, and aftertaste are important but can be subjective and require your senses to be fine-tuned. Knowing what to call a wine bottle, on the other hand, is much easier.
Wine bottles have been used to store and preserve wine for millennia. From ancient Roman amphoras to modern-day glass bottles, they have evolved and adapted to meet the needs of each different generation.
With this article, we hope to provide you with a good overview of the various types and sizes of wine bottles, as well as highlight their key differences and unique characteristics without overwhelming you – that’s the wine’s job, not the bottle's.
Whether you are experienced or a beginner, learning about the different types and sizes of wine bottles can help you make informed decisions and enhance your wine-drinking experience. So, pop that cork and join us as we dive into the world of wine bottles!
TYPES OF WINE BOTTLES
Wine bottles come in many different shapes and sizes, each with its own unique history and purpose. Their shape is not purely defined by aesthetics – it serves to fulfill a function and is a mirror to the region and time period they originated from. Here are some of the most common types of wine bottles:
This classic bottle is typically used for red wines, such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and is recognizable by its broad shoulders and tall, straight body. The Bordeaux bottle originated in the Bordeaux region of France, and its design is said to help preserve the wine inside by minimizing the amount of air exposure.
The Burgundy is used for both red and white wines from the Burgundy region of France, such as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. It is characterized by its wider body and more rounded shoulders compared to the Bordeaux bottle.
The Alsace, on the other hand, is typically used for white wines, such as Riesling and Gewürztraminer, and is easy to spot by its slender and tall shape. The Alsace bottle is commonly used in the Alsace region of France and Germany.
This bottle is used for both red and white wines, and is similar in shape to the Alsace bottle, but slightly shorter and wider. The Rhine bottle is usually used for Riesling wines from Germany's Rhine region.
The iconic bottle needs no introduction as it is used specifically for Champagne and other sparkling wines. It is characterized by its strong, thick glass and unique shape, which includes a larger body and narrow neck. This design is said to help build pressure inside the bottle and retain the wine's effervescence.
This bottle is used specifically for Port wine, a fortified wine from around the city of Oporto, in Portugal. It has a small size and unique shape, which includes a wider body and shorter neck.
It might come as a surprise, but this bottle is used for Chianti, a type of red wine from Tuscany, Italy. Its distinctive "fiasco" or basket-like casing that surrounds the bottle makes it very easy to recognize.
With a slender and tall shape, much like the Alsace bottle, the Riesling bottle is used specifically for Riesling wines.
Each type of wine bottle is specifically designed to enhance the wine inside, be it through its shape, size, or even its material. Knowing the shape of a bottle is also to understand the wine that it contains!
DOES SIZE MATTER? SIZES OF WINE BOTTLES
Yes, size does matter. You’ll learn it quite quickly if you ever try to drink a whole Imperial bottle. Some of the bottle sizes have funny names that will take a while to get used to, so best to start memorizing them right away, before you start winemaking or drinking:
Split / Piccolo (187.5 ml)
This compact bottle is perfect for single servings, making it ideal for a quick drink or trying a new wine. Its compact size also makes it an excellent choice for traveling or gift-giving.
Demie (375 ml)
This half-sized bottle is great for solo drinking or sharing between two people. Its smaller size makes it an economical choice, while still providing enough wine for a good time.
Standard (750 ml)
The standard-sized bottle is the most common bottle type and is equivalent to a standard bottle of liquor. This size is perfect for sharing between two to four people over dinner, making it a popular choice for families and small gatherings.
Magnum (1.5 L)
This double-sized bottle is perfect for special occasions or large groups. Its size makes it an excellent choice for parties, or for people who want to stock up on their favorite wine.
Double Magnum (3 L)
This massive bottle is equivalent to four standard-sized bottles, making it a great choice for large gatherings, special events, or as a gift. Its size makes it a popular option for collectors of rare wines.
Jeroboam (4.5 L)
This extremely large bottle is equivalent to six standard-sized bottles and is often used for special occasions, such as weddings or high-end events. It is also a popular choice for collectors of rare wines.
Imperial (6 L)
The Imperial is the size of eight standard-sized bottles, making it a popular choice for large events or for collectors of rare wines. Its size is sure to impress, and its ample wine supply ensures that there will be enough to go around.
Salmanazar (9 L)
This massive bottle is equivalent to twelve standard-sized bottles, and is often reserved for some of the fanciest events. Its large size is perfect for big gatherings, or for collectors of rare wines.
Balthazar (12 L)
This extremely large bottle is equivalent to sixteen standard-sized bottles, making it an excellent choice for special events or for collectors of rare wines. Its size makes it a standout, and its ample wine supply will keep the party going all night.
Nebuchadnezzar (15 L)
This massive bottle is equivalent to twenty standard-sized bottles and is often used for special events or for collecting rare wines. Its size is truly impressive, and its ample wine supply will ensure that there is enough to go around, even for the largest of gatherings.
Each size of wine bottle has its own unique purpose and history, and can be used to suit different occasions, from individual servings to large events and from a quick tasting to collecting.
SO WHICH ONE DOES A WINEMAKER CHOOSE?
Choosing the right wine bottle will always depend on the winemaker's needs. Here are some of the factor you should take into account when choosing a bottle size.
The Split and the Demie, given how much smaller they are, are often less expensive than larger bottles, making them a good choice for those on a budget.
If you’re looking for a specific type of wine, smaller bottles are often more readily available than larger ones.
Larger bottles tend to be better for preserving wine since they have a larger volume of wine and a smaller air-to-wine ratio, helping reduce the amount of air that comes into contact with the wine, which can cause it to spoil.
As you might imagine, larger bottles like the Magnum or the Jeroboam, are more impressive and make a statement when used as gifts or for special occasions.
As you can see, wine bottles come in a variety of types and sizes, each with its own unique characteristics. From the classic Bordeaux and Burgundy bottles to the elegant Champagne and Port bottles, there is a bottle for every type of wine. When choosing a wine bottle, it is important to consider many different factors.
Hopefully, with this article, you now have a good overview of all the types of wine bottles out there!