“Size Matters”. Wine for commercial use can be packaged in various size containers; bag in a box, tetra packs and recently there have been discussions for plastics bottles (ouch).
The most traditional way to package wine is in glass bottles, from clear to assorted shades of green, yellow and brown glass. Sizes range from 250ml to 6000ml, with all other sizes in between. Glass bottles allow wines to be properly stored and aged. When you buy quality wines you should always buy glass bottles, preferably with a natural cork.
Below are some terms used for different bottle sizes; keep in mind that some of these terms are taken from French terminology. However, today they have become custom names in the industry.
Piccolo : Is the Italian name for a 187.5ml (6.3 fl oz) size bottle, the equivalent of a quarter of a 750ml standard bottle.
Not very common in the markets, however some dessert and fortified wine can be found in this size. Serve one standard glass (6.3 fl oz) per person or 2 people (dessert and fortified wines should be served an average of 3 fl oz per glass).
Demy (mezza or split) : Is the French name for a 375ml (12.7 fl oz) or a half of a 750ml standard bottle.
This size is very popular with sweet and fortified wines. Some quality wines and sparkling can be found in this size bottle as well. It makes the perfect amount for an individual (solo dining) or to share with someone if you only want a glass each.
For dessert and fortified wines this size can be ideal for 4 people (dessert and fortified wines should be serve an average of 3 fl oz per glass).
* Standard : Refers to a standard 750ml (25.4 fl oz) bottle.
This bottle size was adopted from the wine industry in the last couples of centuries and has become the norm for most wines. The 750ml (25.4 fl oz) bottle was designed for convenience as it serves an average of two people; 375ml (12.7 fl oz) per individual equal to two 6.5 fl oz glasses of wine per person.
It can also serve four people one glass each 187.5ml (6.3 fl oz). Ideal to split with a friend or for small gathering, also great for tasting wines with a small group when you want to taste several wines during the same event. (Serve 4-6 peoples, 6.5 fl oz. or up to 8 people with an average of 3 fl oz each).
Magnum : Refers to a 1500ml (1.5 litres, 50.7 fl oz) bottle or the equivalent of 2 Standard bottles
(please note that you can find inexpensive wines in this size as well), however you can discover some exceptional wines and special vintages. Large wines bottles are well known for their aging ability.
Great for a larger gathering 6-8 people (one glass each average).
Double Magnum : Refers to a 3000ml (3 litres, 101.4 fl oz)) bottle, the equivalent of 4 Standard bottles.
This size is very popular with wine collectors and allows wines to age for longer periods of time (sometimes up to 25 years). Because few wines are packaged this way, it creates an attractive collectible item and a great gift idea.
Brilliant for celebrations if you want to offer something really special to your guests; serves 8-12 people. (One glass each).
Jeroboam : Refers to a 4500ml (4.5 litres, 152.2 fl oz) or a 5000ml (5 litres, 169 fl oz) bottle.
These sizes are not always available and are also very popular with wine collectors as it allows wines to age for longer, offering the opportunity to discover some older and special vintages. This size is used to age wines up to 30 years and more. Very few wines are packaged this way; it makes an interesting collectible item or a great gift idea for the discriminating wine connoisseur.
Impressive for celebrations if you really want to surprise your party; serves 10-14 people. (One glass each)
Remember that under the Italian Denomination of Origin laws and regulations, DOC and DOCG wines can only be bottled in sizes no more that 5 litres.
In addition, French wines and champagnes use other sizes of interest, these sizes can also be found in new world wines. You may be able to find them in Italian wines such as IGT and Table wines but production is very limited.
These other sizes are:
Rehoboam : 4500ml (4.5 litres or 152.2 fl oz) Typical for Burgundy and Champagne.
Imperial : 6000 ml (6 litres or 202.9 fl oz) Traditionally for Bordeaux wines.
Methuselah : 6000 ml (6litres or 202.9 fl oz) Usually for Champagnes and burgundy wines.
Hope this will help you the next time you look at some different size bottles.