Size definitely matters, especially when it comes to the world of wine – bigger often means better. Apart from the fact that it implies ‘celebration’, there is actual science behind the thought that enjoying wine from a larger wine bottle produces a better taste. But why? We did a bit of digging to shed some light on this particular topic…
Prolonged Maturation Period
According to our Cellar Master, Charles Williams, a magnum (1.5L) bottle is the ideal size for ageing wine, especially for Bordeaux-style wines. Why, you might ask? Wine ages or mature as air transfers in and out of the cork, interacting with the flavour components of a wine. Bigger bottles contain a larger amount or volume of wine in the bottle and thus less ullage, i.e. the empty space between the wine and the cork. These bigger bottles have a proportionately smaller amount of air inside the bottle, due to the increased volume of wine, which ultimately results in a more gradual maturation or ageing process through means of oxidation. Hence, this allows for a prolonged maturation period, since magnum (1.5L) bottles age at half the speed of their 750ml counterparts, often developing greater nuances and more complex flavours. Sure, the even bigger formats are also highly valuable when it comes to wine ageing, but the magnum seems to achieve the perfect (golden) ration between maturation results vs time. As magnum bottles allow for more graceful wine ageing, it goes without saying that these bigger wine formats are therefore undoubtedly more valuable than the standard 750ml bottles. And even more so over time and thus making for the perfect collector’s item and long-term investment.
Designed for Durability
These bigger formats are of course also more durable than the standard sized 750ml bottles. This is due to the glass thickness of these larger bottles. The heavier the glass, the more protection of the wine from external factors such as heat, light exposure and travel-related vibrations. For red wines, most large formats are dark green bottles as opposed to clear glass, which keeps out any harmful light. The thickness of the glass ensures that it takes longer for summer heat or frigid winter temperatures to infiltrate and also helps absorb the shock of any vibrations endured during shipment or transportation.
Looks the Part
There is no denying it. A bigger bottle always does the job with first and lasting impressions. There is just something about a larger bottle of wine that shouts ‘celebration’ and ‘sharing’ that help sets the tone to any and every special occasion. When planning a special event or occasion, it’s all about setting the right environment. And, according to two-Michelin-star Chef, Mr Michel Roux Jr, there is no better way of doing this than with a magnum: “There’s a spirit of generosity and conviviality as soon as you see a magnum on the table.”
In the end, bigger really is better when it comes to choosing your wine for collection and long-term investment purposes. But at the same time, you need to know a bigger format calls for an extended maturation phase. How does the saying(s) go again? “Patience is a virtue; Wait and you shall receive; Patience is rewarded; Good things come to those who wait…” The list goes on.