In the 1700’s, new advances in technology finally enabled glass manufacturers to mass produce bottles…but marketing methods and shopping habits had not yet caught up. A visit to a wine store meant bringing your own bottles (which were too expensive to throw away or provide to customers for free) to have refilled from the wine purveyor’s full barrels!
To combat the rampant dishonesty from both customers and shopkeepers in determining the capacity of the bottles, the English developed a standard bottle size of 750ml. The size was determined from the average capacity of a glass-blower’s lungs, and therefore was easy to reproduce with some level of accuracy.
With a few years of progress, other bottle sizes were developed. Today, Champagne is regularly bottled in up to 15 different sizes, with corresponding names:
Quarter bottle – 187ml
Half bottle – 375ml
Bottle– 750ml (25.4 fluid ozs, 4-5 glasses)
Magnum – 1.5 liters
Jeroboam – 3 liters (Champagne) or 4.5 liters (Still wine)
Rehoboam – 4.5 liters (Champagne only)
Methuselah – 6 liters
Salmanazar – 9 liters (equal to a case of 12 bottles)
Balthazar – 12 liters
Nebuchadnezzar – 15 litres (20 bottles!)
(The three largest sizes are rarely made today, as the bottles alone cost several hundreds of dollars and are very difficult to lift or pour)
Large bottles are hard to find on store shelves, but are regularly available by special order. Plan ahead for your next large event, and order a large bottle to add to the atmosphere of your festivity!