A Complete Guide to Different Wine Bottle Sizes
Most bottles of everyday wine contain the same amount of liquid, although their shape and size may vary slightly from one wine region to the next. But wine bottles actually come in all different formats, from miniatures and piccolos to Melchizedeks. Here is a complete guide to wine bottle sizes, whether for still or sparkling wine, from the smallest to the largest and most extraordinary. At the end of this article, discover Architecture Intérieure du Vin’s furniture range, adapted to all bottle sizes to store your wine collection in optimal conditions.
Small Wine Bottle Sizes
Whoever said that great wine had to be bottled in large vessels? Miniatures, piccolos, quarters… Let’s start by exploring the world of small wine bottles.
Miniature (0.05 L)
This is quite simply the smallest wine bottle size in the world. This miniature 5cl format is normally used for spirits and liqueurs. But wine miniatures have actually been around since the end of the 19th century. Originally, wineries would hand these tiny bottles out as samples.
Miniatures carefully reproduce the shape and colours of larger bottles, including the style of the label. They are artistic masterpieces. Today, these mini bottles of red, white or rosé wine are very rare, which is why they are so sought after by collectors!
Piccolo (0.20 L) or Chopine (0.25 L)
Piccolo (20 centilitres) and chopines (25 centilitres) are the smallest bottles of wine available in-store. They hold just enough for a large glass of wine, or two small glasses to share over a quick meal.
Whereas a piccolo holds a quarter of a wine bottle, a chopine contains a quarter of a litre. These miniature sizes are also available on planes.
Half or Demi (0.375 L)
A demi is half a bottle of wine, containing 37.5 centilitres, which is exactly half of a standard bottle. This size is ideal to savour the finesse of a vintage, its grape varieties and aromas, without feeling inebriated.
You can thus enjoy a nice glass of still or sparkling wine with a delicious meal and the person of your choice, without overindulging or wasting a drop. This bottle format is also known as a ‘fillette’ in France.
Half-litre, Jennie (0.5 L) or Medium (0.5 L to 0.6 L)
As suggested by its name, a half-litre (or Jennie) contains half a litre of wine (50 cl), which is exactly two thirds of a standard wine bottle. To give you an idea of size, this is the equivalent of a large pitcher of wine in a French restaurant.
A 50 centilitre bottle is also sometimes called a medium, but some use this name for slightly bigger bottles that contain 0.6 L, which can cause confusion.
Standard Wine Bottle Size
Do you know how much a standard glass bottle of red, white or rosé wine contains? Whether a Châteauneuf du Pape grand cru or a promising batch from a small local vineyard, almost all the bottles stored in your wine cellar hold three quarters of a litre of wine.
0.75 L Capacity
A standard bottle of wine contains 0.75 litres. It’s no coincidence that this size is the most common format around the world. Indeed, since 1866, 75 centilitre bottles (and not 1 litre ones) became the standard format because of the English measurement system at the time: the imperial gallon was equivalent to 4.5 litres. For the English, who were the main importers of wine in the 19th century, a case of 6 bottles of 0.75 L (i.e., 1 gallon of wine per case), was the most practical format to ship because it was easy for wine merchants all over the world to convert 1 gallon into litres and vice versa. This also explains why bottles tend to be packed in cases of 6, or sometimes 12.
A Litre of Wine
You’re unlikely to find a one litre bottle at your local wine shop! A litre of wine tends to be sold in plastic containers for cooking or in boxes to be served in jugs in cafeterias or open-air bars.
Large Wine Bottle Sizes
Large or very large bottles of wine are quite rare on the market, but it is still possible to open a magnum of champagne with a sabre or pop a slowly aged jeroboam of wine. These bottles can often only be found online, depending on the vintage and winery.
It’s worth noting though that a high capacity wine bottle will age better and potentially last longer than a classic 75 cl bottle. Which is probably why the largest bottles are named after biblical characters, famous for their extraordinary longevity. The bigger the bottle, the more stable the wine temperature and the slower the oxygenation process through the cork.
Magnum (1,5 L)
A magnum, the most famous and common large format, contains 1.5 litres, which is the equivalent of 2 standard wine bottles. Magnums are mainly found at weddings, celebrations and ceremonies.
Jeroboam (3 L)
This large collector’s bottle contains 3 litres of wine, which is the equivalent of 4 standard bottles or a double magnum. Jeroboams are both useful and spectacular on festive occasions with lots of guests.
Very Large Bottles of Wine
Do larger wine bottles exist? Certainly, and most of these larger vessels are named after characters in the Old Testament:
- Rehoboam (4.5 L)
- Methuselah (6 L)
- Salmanazar (9 L)
- Balthazar (12 L)
- Nebuchadnezzar (15 L)
- Solomon or Melchior or Goliath (18 L)
- Sovereign (26.25 L) or Primat (27 L)
- Melchizedek or Midas (30 L)
These huge bottles are very rare. They can facilitate the storage of large quantities of wine but are mainly produced as displays or to advertise wineries offering on-site tasting sessions.
Adelaide (93 L)
Several people, possibly equipped with a large funnel, are required to pour wine from an Adelaide without dropping it. This bottle, containing 93 litres of wine, is the second largest official wine vessel to date.
Sublime (150 L)
What is the largest wine bottle in the world? Which one, among all the formats listed in the international measurement system, has the greatest capacity? Introducing the ‘sublime’, which can hold 150 litres – a beautiful wine cellar in a bottle!
Wine Bottle Sizes Specific to the Bordeaux Region
Bordeaux winegrowers have their own reference system for wine bottle sizes, which can cause some confusion! Here is a short guide to the different sizes according to Bordeaux tradition:
- Marie-Jeanne (2.25 L)
- Double magnum (3 L)
- Bordeaux Jeroboam (4.5 L)
- Imperial (6 L)
- Melchior (18 L)
Regional Variations and Different Shaped Wine Bottles
Some terroirs and regional winegrowers stand out for their different wine bottle shapes. Local grands crus and regional vintages are thus more easily recognisable in a large wine cellar or shop, amongst all the other bottles from France and the world.
However, they all share certain common characteristics, such as the diameter of the neck (to use normal-sized corks) and the hollow bottom (to limit the formation of deposits at the bottom of a bottle stored upright or slanted).
Bordeaux Wine Bottles
Bordeaux bottles are straight like a regular cylinder. It stands out for its well-defined shoulders and straight body, which makes it easy to store or stack in a wine cellar or storage space.
Champagne Wine Bottles
Champagne bottles are better suited to sparkling wines, with their smooth, curved shape from the bottom of the bottle to the top of the neck, and almost no shoulder. The glass is also thicker to contain the pressure of the bubbles. That is not to say that all champagne bottles are exactly the same shape. Some have a larger base and a slender, long neck.
Burgundy Wine Bottles
You may not have noticed before, but wine from the Bourgogne region tends to be stored in smoothly curved Burgundy bottles, closer in design to a Champagne bottle than a straight Bordeaux one. The fine, round and light nature of Burgundy wine is reflected visually for observant wine lovers.
Alsatian Wine Bottles
Alsatian white wines, such as Riesling or Gewurztraminer are easy to recognise. Their bottles are tall and thin, otherwise known as Alsatian flutes. They look like elongated, slightly curved cones, perhaps symbolizing the wine’s vivid and intense freshness.
Provençal Wine Bottles
Certain winegrowers in Côtes de Provence choose to bottle their wine in the regional bottle format. Provençal bottles are slender, with a body in the shape of an 8 or an elongated trapezium with a hollowed out curve, as though wearing a belt to mark the waist.
Clavelin: Jura Vin Jaune Bottles (0.62 L)
AOC / AOP Vin Jaune from Jura must be contained in a traditional, specific bottle, known as a clavelin, which holds 62 cl. This wine is not bottled in a standard 75 cl bottle because part of Vin Jaune, that is aged for 6 years in barrels before bottling, evaporates. The bottle has a large and straight base, prominent shoulders and a rounded neck.
Rhone Wine Bottles
Wine from the Rhone Valley, Côtes du Rhone and Rhone hills is stored in short, curved Rhone wine bottles, that are similar in appearance to Burgundy or Champagne bottles.
Loire Wine Bottles
Loire Valley bottles are slightly thinner than Burgundy ones.
Champagne and Sparkling Wine Bottle Shapes
What are vintage champagnes or sparkling wines bottled in? There are a few exceptions, but the standard capacity and names of sparkling wine bottles are the same as for still wines.
Champagne Bottle Capacity
Small and large bottles of sparkling wine have the same names as for still wines. A classic Champagne bottle holds 75 centilitres of fine bubbles. Whereas a 375 ml demi is ideal for a one-to-one Blanc de Blancs tasting session, the smallest bottle size, otherwise known as a ‘huitième’ (eighth) contains just enough to serve one flute. This exceptional mini Champagne bottle only holds 9.4 cl and is distributed as a sample in the USA to discover French wines.
Shape of a Champagne or Sparkling Wine Bottle
When it comes to the shape of the bottle, Champagne and sparkling wine producers let their creativity run wild. For example, some bottles have a very low base with an elongated neck, in contrast to the harmonious curves that run along the length of a traditional Champagne bottle.
Our Wine Furniture Fits all Bottles
To help you safely store your wine bottles and cases in the very best conditions, Architecture Intérieure du Vin has designed a modular system for your wine cellar, so that you can configure each level, compartment and element of your custom-made furniture down to the last detail.
Our wine shelves, racks and cabinets fit all bottle sizes, whether to store together in rows or in wooden crate drawers, or in individual compartments, flat, on a slope or in standing display units.
Our still and sparkling wine counters, buffets and cabinets are also highly modular, so that you can customize your tasting and display areas: wine glass racks, wine tool drawers, engraved flame plates, wine cellar lights, as well other useful and aesthetic options.
Please get in touch for any further information. Our experts in wine cellars and furniture would be happy to help. Our French savoir-faire is at your service, in France and abroad.