Champagne – Does size matter? – Champagne is the world’s favourite celebratory drink. With a glorious history, unique flavour and reputation for glamour, the corks pop for birthdays and special events all year round.
The custom of large bottles was born in Champagne. In the 18th century, following the success of its wines, large-format bottles were served in the most prestigious restaurants in Europe, some being purely functional while others are designed to capture the spirit of specific festive occasions.
The classic Champagne bottle has a capacity of 75cl this is known as the standard size and is the basis against which all the other Champagne bottle sizes are gauged.
Here in the UK, there are nine Champagne bottle sizes in circulation, although some producers do also produce Champagne in even more bottle sizes.
Not all Champagne brands/producers are available in all sizes, however, the main household-named brands do produce in 7,8 or 9 bottle sizes.
The Piccolo size of 18.75cl is also known as a Quarter or Mini Bottle, the name has an Italian origin and means ‘small’ This is a single glass size bottle and has become very popular to have at weddings for each guest and the size you may be served on a business class flight.
The Demi is a 37.5cl champagne bottle, it is also referred to as a Half Bottle. Another name is Fillete which means “little girl”. This is becoming more and more popular due to its affordability and is produced by all the Champagne brands. The Demi bottle of champagne is the equivalent of 3 flute champagne glasses
Standard / Regular Bottle
As previously mentioned, the standard Champagne bottle size is also known as a regular and contains 75cl. As a rule, you should be able to get 6 regular-sized glasses of Champagne out of a standard bottle.
The first of the larger bottle sizes of Champagne is known as a Magnum and is 150cl (1.5 Litres). The Magnum of Champagne is the equivalent of two standard bottles. The history of the name Magnum comes from the Latin for large – Magnus.
Champagne producers describe Magnum as an ideal bottle for ageing champagne, this is due to the fact that the bottles are larger, but their necks are not. This key factor has an impact on how much wine is in contact with the air contained in the bottle. Aeration is limited with a magnum and the process slowed down. This format, therefore, reduces oxygenation and encourages optimum ageing.
A Jeroboam of Champagne or Jero as it is sometimes referred is a double Magnum and quickly gets us up to the 3-litre size, which is therefore 4 times the standard Champagne bottle size giving you 24 champagne glasses.
The name Jeroboam has come from the history books and is the apparent name of the first King of the Northern Kingdom back in the time of King Solomon in 975BC. Most of the bottle size names are taken from these biblical times BC.
The Methuselah is the equivalent of 8 standard bottles which equates to 6 litres of Champagne or 48 glasses!!! The name Methuselah hails from longevity and again from biblical times. It is deemed that when Methuselah was 187, he fathered Lamech, and he then went on to live to the ripe old age of 969 – it is for this reason that Methuselah is tied to longevity.
A Salmanazar Champagne bottle size contains 9 litres which is the same as 12 regular bottles enough to fill 72 standard Champagne flutes. Once more the name comes from historical times and the first Salmanazar was king of Assyria from 1274-1245BC.
Now we are up to very large bottle sizes. A Balthazar holds 12 litres of Champagne or 16 standard bottles or 96 glasses. History has us to believe that Balthazar was the King of Saba and one of the three wise men who worshipped baby Jesus. Balthazar gave the gift of Myrrh.
This is the largest of all the mainstream bottle sizes produced and is a whopping 15 litres, 20 standard bottles or enough to fill 120 Champagne flutes. It is thought the name Nebuchadnezzar Pronounced Nebu-ka-nezz-er originates from the King of Babylon who ruled from 605-562BC.
There are other Champagne bottle sizes made but in far fewer quantities. Though not really in the commercial sale, one of the more curious bottle sizes of Champagne is the Pint Bottle, which is around 570 ml. The Champagne bottle was created for Winston Churchill by Pol Roger and a bottle of it was delivered to Churchill every morning!