Most of us spend our entire wine lives pouring from three bottle sizes.
There are other sizes, however, and their Bible-inspired names are fun. Bottle basics:
• Standard wine bottle is 750 mL, a splash more than 25 ounces. Size derives from what glass blower can blow with single breath.
• Halve a standard bottle and you have 375 mL, called a “split,” “half-bottle,” or “demi.” They typically are found in high-end dessert wines—sauternes, icewines, beerenauslese, trockenbeerenauslese. Some sparklings come in this size at restaurants.
• Standard bottle doubled is 1.5 liters and bears massive macho marketing moniker: “magnum.” Many value wines come in this size.
• At three liters or more, nomenclature unravels. Three-liter bottle in Bordeaux is “double-magnum.” In Champagne/Burgundy, it is “Jéroboam” (first Hebrew king).
• A Jéroboam in Bordeaux is 4.5 liters, while same size in Champagne/Burgundy is “Rehoboam” (Solomon’s successor).
• Bottle six liters (more than 1.5 gallons) and you have “Impériale” in Bordeaux and “Methuselah” (patriarch who lived 969 years) in Champagne/Burgundy.
• Bottle holding nine liters—an entire case—is a “Salmanazar” (adapted spelling of name of king from 2 Kings). Sizes this big and larger are almost exclusive to Champagne/Burgundy.
• Fork-lift a 12-liter bottle (more than three gallons) and you have a “Balthazar” (one of the Magi).
• Finally, go all-in with a 15-liter bottle, almost four gallons: a “Nebuchadnezzar” (conqueror of Jerusalem).
You won’t find oversize bottles at neighborhood stores, but fun to think about at Bible study.
Recommendations (available locally, but not in scriptural sizes):
• Alexander Valley Vineyards Two Barrel 2005. Syrah-Merlot equal blend; nice nose, lots of over-ripe fruit; simple, easy-drinker; decant. $15
• Domaine Collin Cremant de Limoux Brut NV. Lemons; good acidity & body; non-Champagne chenin blanc, pinot noir, chardonnay sparkling blend from France; excellent value. $15
• Sumarroca Cava Brut Reserva 2008. Yellow apples, grapefruit; bright, fresh, subtle, off-dry; sparkling Spanish value. $15