Wine bottles come in many different sizes. You might have noticed this when you have been in the liquor store. However, you might also have noticed that, despite this, a lot of the bottles are the same size. This indicates that there is a standard size and that other sizes are rarer. In this article, we will take a look at the standard-size wine bottle and later at the heights of the different bottles. We will also see if there is a story behind the heights of wine bottles.
What is the Height of a Standard Wine Bottle?
The size of bottle that we usually buy or get served in restaurants and bars is 750 ml. It is around 12 inches in height and has a 3 – 3 ½ inch diameter base. It is often called the Bordeaux-shaped bottle. You can generally pour 5 glasses of wine from a bottle this size if the measure is 150 ml.
What is the History Behind the Wine Bottle?
The Ancient Egyptians and the Ancient Greeks used an amphora to store wine. This was a clay jar with two handles. In one way, amphoras were similar to our standard bottles in that they had a tapered bottom and a long neck. At the same time, the Georgians used the kvevri which was a large egg-shaped earthenware pot used for fermenting and maturing wine. It was similar to the amphora but it didn’t have handles. Some Georgians still use them to make and store wine as they believe it to be part of their heritage. The Gauls, who were a group of Celtic people living in mainland Europe during the Iron Age and the Roman period, used barrels to store their wine. The Romans started using barrels as well as they expanded their Empire. Barrels were a good way of transporting wine from country to country.
The Romans then invented the glass bottle which they found was a good way to store wine because it did not affect the flavor. However, as the glass was hand blown, the bottles weren’t a uniform size. They could hold anywhere between 600 ml and 800 ml of wine. Bottles were originally onion-shaped but later it was discovered that a longer flatter shape was best as it could be stored on its side. Doing this helps the wine to age well and keeps the cork wet so that it doesn’t break when you pull it out.
In the 1800s, glass bottles started to be produced by machines and so a standard size could be created. However, some regions chose 800 ml while others had 750 ml or 700 ml.
In 1979, the US set a requirement that standard bottles must be 750 ml and the European Union soon followed suit as did other countries. This makes it much easier to trade between countries.
What are the Heights of Other Wine Bottles?
Although the standard wine bottle is the most common, there are other sizes, some of which you may have heard of or used, while others are rare so you may not be aware of them, especially the larger bottles. However, they are out there, and you may be surprised to hear how many different sizes there are. Strangely enough, many of them, especially the larger bottles, are named after people mentioned in the Bible. It’s not known why but they sound good anyway.
Let’s take a look at the different sizes of wine bottles and find out how tall they are.
Piccolo or Split
You can often be served a Piccolo in a bar or on an airplane. Piccolos are also sold in stores. It is a bottle that holds 187.5 ml of wine so is the equivalent of a large glass of wine. It is about a quarter of the size of a standard bottle of wine. It often holds Champagne or other sparkling wines, but you can get piccolos which contain red, white, or rose wine, and even dessert wine.
The height of a Piccolo is 7 ½ inches and it has a 2 ½ inch base. It is handy if you want to limit your alcohol intake or if you want to have a different wine to other people in your group.
Half Bottle or Demi
As the name suggests, the half-bottle or demi is half the size of a standard bottle and therefore holds about 375 ml of wine. You will get around two and a half glasses of wine from a Demi bottle. These bottles stand around 9 ½ inches tall and the diameter is 2 ¼ inches.
The word Magnum suggests that the bottle is going to be big and it is. It holds a liter and a half of wine, twice as much as a standard bottle. It will give you around 10 glasses of wine. Magnum bottles are 13 inches tall and have a diameter base of 4 inches. Magnum bottles often contain champagne.
Jeroboam or Double Magnum
This is the first bottle that is named after someone in the Bible. Jeroboam was from the tribe of Ephraim, a servant of King Solomon’s who later became the King of the divided northern kingdom of Israel. As its other name, Double Magnum, suggests, it is twice the size of a Magnum bottle. It holds 4 standard bottles of wine, in other words, 3 liters. It is 18 inches tall and 5 inches wide.
Rehoboam was the son of Solomon. He was the last king of United Israel and the first king of the kingdom of Judah. The Rehoboam bottle can hold 6 standard bottles of wine which is about 4 and a half liters. It is 19 ½ inches tall and has a diameter of 5 inches. It is often used for champagne or sparkling wine.
Methuselah was the grandfather of Noah and is reputed to have lived until he was 969 years old. A Methuselah bottle holds 8 standard bottles of wine or 6 liters. It stands 22 inches tall and generally holds sparkling wines.
Salmanazar was a king of the Neo-Assyrian Empire. The Salmanazar bottle holds 12 bottles of standard wine which is the equivalent of a case of wine. It is 25 inches tall.
Balthazar was an African King who was one of the Three Wise Men. A Balthazar bottle holds 16 standard bottles of wine and is 28 inches tall.
Nebuchadnezzar was a Babylonian king who destroyed Jerusalem in 526 BC. The Nebuchadnezzar wine bottle holds 20 bottles of standard wine and stands 31 inches tall.
Melchior was a king of Persia and was another of the Three Wise Men. The Melchior bottle holds 24 standard bottles of wine and stands at 36 inches.
Goliath or Primat
Goliath was a Philistine and a warrior and giant who was defeated by the young David in single combat. It holds 27 bottles of wine and is 38 inches tall.
Midas or Melchizedek
Midas is remembered as the King in Greek mythology who turned everything into gold. Melchizedek was a king of Salem and a priest of God. This is the largest bottle of wine that there is. It holds 40 bottles of standard wine, is 40 inches tall and has a base of 10 inches in diameter. It is built for champagne.
Is It Important To Know How Tall a Bottle of Wine Is?
If you placed all these bottles side by side, you would easily see the difference in size between them. A Piccolo would look minute standing next to a Melchizedek.
So, does it matter how tall the bottles are? The simple answer is yes. If they are the same height, they will contain the same amount of wine so making it easier to regulate sales.
When looking at the standard Bordeaux bottle of wine, another reason for having them the same size is that it’s easier to store them when they are lying down. They also easily fit on a wine rack.
There are, however, advantages to having larger bottles of wine. For a start, they make a great centerpiece on a dining table or in a bar. More importantly, wine ages better in a larger bottle. Aging enhances the aroma, color, mouthfeel, and taste of the wine. Aging also softens tannins, making the wine less harsh. In addition, because the larger wine bottles are thicker, the temperature remains even. Changing temperatures affect the aging process so if you want to age a wine, choose a larger bottle but do note that there isn’t much point in aging cheap wines. It won’t make them any better.
Large wine bottles also help to keep the surface of the wine away from the air when the bottle is opened. Air exposure oxidates wine and it goes off quickly.
Before reading this article, you may have thought that it isn’t important how tall a wine bottle is but hopefully you now know that it is. Most importantly, it regulates the amount of wine you get. If you buy a bottle of standard wine, you will know that you are getting 750 ml, no more, no less. This is good to know if you are going abroad and are ordering a bottle of wine. You can then decide if you are getting value for money.
Knowing the types of wine bottles that there are is useful as then you can buy a bottle that suits you.
For example, if you just want one glass of wine a week, you are best choosing a Piccolo. If you are having a celebration dinner party, you could pick a Magnum or Double Magnum, depending on how many people there are. The most important thing is to enjoy the wine once you have chosen the size of the bottle.