The most commonly used size of wine bottle has a capacity of 750ml. Some theories state that this unit was established by the Romans as a daily ration for their soldiers. When glass was introduced, the measure was conserved, as artisans could produce this recipient by blowing just once, which was not possible with a larger bottle.
But the most accepted theory comes from Medieval Europe. At that time, the basic measure used for international trade was the English gallon. Using this measure as a base, the conclusion was drawn that a fifth of this measure, 750ml, was the ideal size for transport and storage.
However, since the middle ages, new formats have arisen, such as the Magnum (1.5 L) Jeroboam (3 L), Rehoboam (4.5 L), Mathusalem (6 L), Salmanazar (9 L), Balthazar (12 L) and Melchior (18 L).
A Magnum bottle contains double the amount of wine as in a standard bottle, but the oxygen it contains is the same. This circumstance reduces the amount of oxygenation, making the wine evolve more slowly. This means that it will remain suitable for drinking over a longer period.
To store wine in the correct conditions you should avoid sudden changes of temperature as much as possible. When the ambient temperature does fluctuate, this variation has less effect on a magnum as it contains a greater volume of liquid.
Therefore, for the reasons already outlined – due to the reduced influence of oxygen and the impact of any variations in temperature – magnum bottles allow the wine to evolve more steadily.
Another factor that could influence our preference for magnum bottles is the number of people that they can serve: its the ideal format for enjoying among family or friends.
It also makes a perfect gift due to its originality, and the fact that magnums are sold in more limited numbers gives it a touch of exclusivity.
So, if you want to choose the right wine, remember that the size of the bottle does matter.