Wine Talk

Snooth User: Carly Wray


Posted by Carly Wray, May 10, 2010.

Thanks to the half-bottle thread, I'm now curious who out there has purchased (or is in the habit of purchasing) magnums. I've never had the pleasure. Where should I start?

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Reply by outthere, May 10, 2010.

Start by not being in a hurry as magnums tend to lay down longer than their 750ml counterparts. Opinions probably vary by wine drinker but I have noticed that my magnums need much more time in the bottle to achieve the same complexity as my single bottles. I'm only referring to red wine as that is all I buy mag's of. They are fun to pull out for a dinner party. You don't need to quickly air another bottle during the meal because the guests drank more than you expected and frankly people ooh and ahh over them too which is neat.

I have no idea how white wine or sparkling wine is affected by bottle size. Maybe someone else could chime in on that.


Reply by zufrieden, May 10, 2010.

The magnums are better for laying down, surely, and age more uniformly and possibly more slowly.  They are definitely great for parties (or two committed drinkers) and as just pointed out also great conversation pieces.  The drawback is the additional cost and the need to re-bung if the eyelids turn down before the glasses do.

I recommend you give them a try; I just bought a magnum of Chateau d'Angludet 2006 for a special occasion that will crop up by the by. Availability seems sporadic, though, so if you see these larger bottles and the label meets your fancy you may just have to grab one or two while the getting is good.

As for Champagne Magnums, I have never actually purchased one, but I have it on good authority that aging will proceed in a manner similar to that experienced with red wines - with the added touch of more volume and more good cheer.  I also know from experience that champagne from magnums (or larger - for there are indeed even larger Champagne bottles) is just as good as that found in a typical 750 ml bottle.

Reply by dynowine, May 10, 2010.

I would like to know why almost all the sizes larger than a magnum are named after people from the Old Testament.  Who assigned those names, and when, I wonder.

I see Franzia appears to have claimed a size for their own name, 5 liters, unless someone wrote it into wikipedia without their knowledge, a possibility.



Reply by dynowine, May 10, 2010.

"The Franzia", sure.  Franzia is a brand that features 3 and 5 liter boxes that contain some kind of wine. 

The 3 liter name appears taken, aka the double magnum.

Reply by dmcker, May 11, 2010.

Any wine, white or red, that's at all ageworthy. Magnums age and taste better. Double magnums even more so, but they're more unwieldy, of course.

I always purchase magnums when I can. Never seems to be a problem finding enough people to drink them when it's time to open them...

Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, May 11, 2010.

I love mags, have a ton, tougher to find to right time to open them. Not only is there more wine, but I am more emotionally commited to them!


The certainly do age better, but require a long time to come around.


I am planning to open a nice set soon though: 1979 California Cabs, 8 to 10 mags!


That will be a fun night.



Reply by MReff, May 11, 2010.

anytime someone says magnums, I say ummmm.

With that, Carly, check out your local place, ususally the ones that sell mid to higher end wines should have a decent selection.  I am impartial to the NYC market here, depends on where you live.

Reply by hhotdog, May 12, 2010.

ok...i wanna hang out with GregD!!



P.S. i have wine bottle envy!

Reply by Lucha Vino, May 12, 2010.

I'm with you Hotdog.  I want to hang out with GregD too!!

I have a couple of magnums sitting in my cellar waiting for the right opportunity, or perhaps just for me to remember they are there!  I will have to see if they are in the Snooth database...

Reply by hhotdog, May 13, 2010.

boy, do i have the corkscrew...i smell a "Magnum" party!!

Reply by Carly Wray, May 14, 2010.

Amen to that - you know where to find me, I'm hereby requesting an invite!

Reply by zufrieden, May 14, 2010.

If there is a Magnum (or Jeroboam) party in NYC this August make sure you post the date and venue; I may just pop by with a selection or two.  This is, unfortunately, contingent on my getting through jury duty.

Reply by Piccolo161, May 19, 2010.

When it comes to champagne I always suggest  buying magnums if there are going to be 6 or more people drinking. After all everyone's going to want a second glass  and so you'll need two bottles anyway.

( depending on how much you love champagne you may go for a magnum if there are only 3 people !)

Magnums look more impressive and add a little something to the party, plus the champagne inside is actually more developed than in a 750ml bottle

This is because magnums age more slowly and spend more time in the cellars in France  and this is down to the fact that, for twice the volume of liquid, there's only  a small amount more air in the bottle, so the whole ageing process is slowed down compared to a standard 750ml

The only drawback is that a magnum costs more than 2 bottles and that's due to the cost of the glass, not the wine. Bottles are made by the tens of millions per year ( so you get economies of scale ) whilst magnums are produced in much lower quantities

As for the old biblical names, the explanation I've heard is that they are thought to give an air of opulence. The names are the old kings of Persia who's wealth was legendary


Reply by dmcker, May 19, 2010.

OK, so here's a list of bottle sizes, courtesy of Wikipedia. First column is in liters, second column in proportion to a standard 750ml bottle, third column the name, and fourth column the explanation of the name, etc.

Should be noted that the same bottle size won't have the same name in Bordeaux as in Champagne or Burgundy. Most of these names are standardized for champagne. Also note that the names don't come from Persia, but are more just storied names of potentates or other notables from the Old Testament (or the Wise Men from the East), as might be expected since this part of wine culture falls well within the Judeo-Christian tradition....



0.1875 0.25 Piccolo "Small" in Italian. Also known as a quarter bottle, pony, snipe or split. 0.25 0.33 Chopine Traditional French unit of volume
0.375 0.5 Demi "Half" in French. Also known as a half bottle or split. 0.378 0.505 Tenth One-tenth of a U.S. gallon* 0.5 0.67 Jennie "White Spirit" in Welsh. Also known as a 50 cl bottle. Used for Tokaj, Sauternes, Jerez, as well as several other types of sweet wines. 0.620 0.83 Clavelin Primarily used for vin jaune. 0.750 1 Standard 0.757 1.01 Fifth One-fifth of a U.S. gallon* 1.5 2 Magnum 2.25 3 Marie Jeanne Also known as a Tregnum or Tappit Hen in the port wine trade.
3.0 4 Jeroboam (a.k.a. Double Magnum) Biblical, First king of Northern Kingdom. "Jeroboam" has different meanings for different regions in France.[5] 4.5 6
4.5 6 Rehoboam 5.0 6.67 Franzia The Wine Group 6.0 8 Imperial 6.0 8 Methuselah Biblical, Oldest Man 9.0 12 Mordechai Biblical, Jewish uncle of Esther Queen of Persia 9.0 12 Salmanazar Biblical, Assyrian King 12.0 16 Balthazar Early Christian folklore, one of the Wise Men 15.0 20 Nebuchadnezzar Biblical, King of Babylon 18.0 24 Melchior Early Christian folklore, one of the Wise Men 20.0 26.66 Solomon Biblical, King of Israel, Son of David
25.0 33.33 Sovereign
27.0 36 Primat
30.0 40 Melchizedek Biblical and other Middle East religions
Reply by dmcker, May 19, 2010.

Sorry, but the formatting that appeared in the pre-post edit box didn't make it to the final post. The columns thus aren't there, but the info for each bottle size is still presented in the order I describe, just horribly jumbled up....

Reply by taylorsenatore, May 19, 2010.

@ Carly Wray --- Mags are the traditional wine collector's preferred format for ageability and ease at which you can actually drink it since it is just 2 bottles worth. I also beleive it is the largest size for a standardc ork, which adds to the it's ageability versus hand cut corks (but then again I could be talking out my hoo hah there)

They are a great format for dinner parties. Harder and harder to get nowadays and and almost always command a premium in price versus 2 single bottles. I have had some older vintages of all sorts of stuff out of mag and they are invariably better than the 750ml counterparts. Now go out and get yourself a mag and party it up!  Cheers!

Reply by WayneOsWorld, May 19, 2010.

Carly - we were curious as well, so we recently purchased 2 different magnums just because we liked the wine in the 'normal' 750ml bottle of the same vintage. 

Nothing really expensive (a Meeker handprint was the pricier one just because we want the bottle later on), just felt the need to experiment as well.

Really appreciate the advice of the posters to age these a bit longer, we'll be taking care to do so.  Thanks for the thread!

Reply by Cathy Shore, May 23, 2010.

Anything bigger than a Magnum in Champagne is decanted so absolutely the best quality in sparkling (traditional method) is in the magnum.

I love magnums - great for dinners with good friends. 

Reply by Eric Guido, May 23, 2010.

I'm all about putting magnums away for the future.  I'm really looking forward to the day that some of my mags have matured.  One of my prize bottles is a magnum of 2001 Giacomo Conterno Monfortino, which will probably be opened in 25+ years.  (I also have a couple of 750ml bottles to hold me off till that day.)

Reply by outthere, May 23, 2010.

I have one ready to pop. A 1984 Neibaum Coppola Rubicon that I have been dieing to open. Have some friends that are recent Rubicon fans, who will be blown away by the difference between then and now, who I plan to share it with.

Like Tom Petty sings: "The waaaaaiting is the hardest part."

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