How Much Wine in a Bottle?
The contents of Hock and Moselle bottles are normally rather less (24 fluid oz, 6 decilitres) than of others — a bottle of Burgundy, for instance, usually consists of 26-2/3 fluid oz (6-½ decilitres), regarded here as the standard bottle size. On the subject of bottle sizes, Victor Lanson, head of the family providing the Champagne of that name, once said to me: ‘A magnum is a suitable measure to be shared by two gentlemen’. A joke, yet M. Lanson has much respect for the magnum as a vessel, not only because the wine will be all the better for that extra quantity of wine, but because the wine will be all the better for that extra space in which to live and burgeon. Unfortunately for the consumer, the magnum bottle is rather more expensive to make so that it costs rather more than the two bottles which yield the equivalent content.
A magnum of Champagne holds 1.60 litres, a magnum of Claret 1.50 litres. A demie, or half bottle of Champagne holds 40 centilitres, a demie of Claret 37.5 centilitres.
Bottles bigger than a magnum do not help the wine and are regarded as rather gimmicky, for show purposes only. Half bottles are less popular than they once were and there are wine lovers who suspect them of cramping the wine so that it might not be quite as good as the same wine in a full-size bottle. Nevertheless, they have their uses, for dining alone or perhaps a deux — starting with white and following with a red, or just contrasting two different wines.
Many of us are now getting accustomed to the litre and double litre bottles. Most of the wine in bottles of these sizes is in the ordinaire class which will normally keep for a day or two, even several days, if recorked after use.