Wine Bottle Size and Fill Level Guide

Bottle Size Guide

While exceptionally old or artisanal/regional products may be found in unusual bottle sizes, as production became more standardized over the years, the following decanter sizes came to be the ones most commonly found on the market:

  • Half Quarter (aka “Topette”): 93.5 ml
  • Quarter Bottle (aka “Piccolo”): 187 ml
  • Half Bottle (aka “Demi” or “Split”): 375 ml
  • Standard Bottle: 750 ml
  • Magnum: 1.5 liters
  • Double Magnum (or “Jeroboam” for Champagne, Burgundy and Rhone): 3 liters
  • Jeroboam (for Bordeaux): 5 liters*
    • *pre-1978 standard Jeroboam fill was 4.45 liters
  • Rehoboam: 4.5 liters
  • Imperial (for wines): 6 liters
  • Methuselah (for Champagne): 6 liters
  • Salmanazar: 9 liters
  • Batlhazar: 12 liters
  • Nebuchadnezzar: 15 liters
  • Melchior: 18 liters
  • Solomon: 20 liters
  • Sovereign: 25 liters
  • Primat (aka “Goliath”): 27 liters
  • Melchizedek: 30 liters
  • Maximus: 130 liters

 

Wine Fill Level Guide

Fill levels convey a general condition statement on the wines contained within each bottle. Lost quantities should correspond appropriately with a wine’s vintage as evaporation through semipermeable cork tops will occur naturally over time. Excessive losses indicate potential problems with their original manufacture or mishandling over the years.

In regard to Bordeaux bottles, with definite “necks” in their construction, we speak of levels in relation to this line and the slope or “shoulder” that lies below. The following describes what can be learned from levels in a Bordeaux bottle:

  • Mid neck (abbreviated MN): a bottle generously filled above the neck line and expertly stored. If the vintage exceeds 40 years this may however raise flags concerning re-corking.
  • Base neck (abbreviated BN): a bottle filled to a current generally accepted industry standard. Excellently stored.
  • Top shoulder (abbreviated TS): a bottle whose fill is just below the line of the neck. To be expected of a wine over 10 years old.
  • Mid shoulder (abbreviated MS): a bottle whose fill is at the approximate center of the curve comprising the shoulder. To be expected of a wine 40 years or older but may also an early indication of cork failure or general poor storage. Possibly inconsumable.
  • Low shoulder (abbreviated LS): a bottle whose fill is below the center of the shoulder. Likely poorly stored. Probably inconsumable.
  • Below shoulder (abbreviated BS): a bottle whose fill is approaching the bottle’s cylinder portion proper; well below the slope of the shoulder. Should be considered inconsumable.

In regard to Burgundy bottles, without “necks” in their construction, we speak of levels in relation to their distance (in centimeters) from the cork or capsule. The following describes what can be learned from levels in a Burgundy bottle:

  • <=2 cm, Exceptional storage
  • <4 cm, expected of a wine 20 years or older (excellent in wines 35 years+). Wines approximately 15 years of age or less, this may raise concerns regarding quality.
  • =>6 cm, Should be approached with caution (in wine of any age). Poor storage or manufacturing is readily apparent. Likely inconsumable.

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