Wine Importing and Marketing Services

When Aging Wine, Bottle Size Actually Matters


DRN429 Demie, Magnum, Jeroboam, Methusalem, Balthazar, Salmanazar, Nebuchadnezzar bottles at Champagne Taittinger in Reims, France

The size of a wine bottle tells you more than how many glasses you’ll be able to pour from it.

“Bottle format undoubtedly has an effect on a wine’s ability to age,” says Erik Elliott, estate director for Heitz Cellar. “It is all a result of oxygen exchange relative to the amount of wine in [the] bottle.”

A magnum has about the same ullage, or space between the top of the liquid and the bottom of the cork, as a standard 750ml bottle. However, it has twice the volume of wine. The ratio of wine to oxygen is significantly impacted and, by extension, so is the aging potential of the wine and the speed at which it occurs.

Consultant Ted Glennon of Asilomar Fine Wine, points out that when considering a 375ml, a 750ml, or a magnum, “each of these formats are sealed with essentially the same amount of available atmosphere at bottling as a 750ml,” and “as such they react with the wine at a different rate.”

The volume of wine also affects the amount of time it takes the liquid to heat up and cool down.