Bigger is most definitely better when it comes to bottles of wine.
Not just because the bottle holds more of that life elixir we all love so much. Although that for sure helps.
We have legit reasons.
Magnums are pretty baller
Let’s just start with the obvious take. Rolling into a party with a giant bottle is a boss move. Nobody blinks twice at a standard 750ml bottle. Maybe if it’s a bottle of Screagle…but I digress.
When you break out a magnum? This, boys and girls, is where the crowd goes wild. They swarm like hungry seagulls. They’ll want to touch the bottle, feel its weight, and buddy, you better believe they’re gonna Instagram it.
The bigger the bottle you bring, the more respect you get. Simple math. Show up with anything larger than a Salamanazar and you become the stuff of legends.
For reference, here’s a hand chart showing each large format:
Big bottles are superior for aging wine
Serious collectors know what’s up. That’s why you’ll always see at least a few big bottles tucked away in their stash.
They know if the regular size bottle is good, the larger one should be even better. Why is that?
In a word, oxygen. Larger bottles have a lower percentage of air to wine than standard bottles. The neck size and opening are just about the same between 750s and magnums. The ullage (the space between the wine and the cork) leaves about the same amount of air, so it takes longer for the contents of the bottle to come in contact with air. This slows the development, making them better for longterm aging just a bit more complexity while retaining that youthful freshness.
The whole party can taste the same wine
If you bring a couple bottles of the same wine, you can’t guarantee they both taste the same. Bottle variation is a thing. One might be corked, or just a little off. Also, you’ll need to keep opening more bottles, which takes time, and energy. Everybody knows more time + more energy = less party. Problematic.
With large formats, it’s one and done and then everybody can taste the same wine. Well, almost everybody. A magnum can serve about ten guests. A magnum here at the office? Probably five people, tops.
Still, the point stands. You can share the same wine with a lot more people.
Magnums are better for bubbles
You think Jay Z and DJ Khaled are poppin’ giant bottles of Dom P because they crave the super fine bead? Nah, they just look cool (refer to point #1). If people go nuts for a big bottle of Cabernet, they straight lose their minds over a large format Champagne. When you need to stunt on your haters, show up to the party with a Jeroboam of bubbles.
Putting Champagne in a big bottle is like stuffing a v8 into a mustang instead of that weak v6. It’s just so much better.
Compare two bottles of vintage Champagne, one in a 750ml and the other in a magnum, and 10/10 you’ll notice a very real difference. The smaller bottle will almost always show more oxidation. The bigger one remains fresher, rounder, more complex, with finer bubbles.
This probably happens because of something called autolysis. This is the breakdown of oxygen by yeast cells in the bottle, which leaves behind carbon dioxide – and makes that fizz. Magnums have more surface area, so the lees have more contact with the wine. This makes for a rounder, more complex final product with more bubbles.
“The magnum bottle is the best bottle for Champagne,” says Vitalie Taittinger, artistic director of Champagne Taittinger. If anyone knows what’s up, it’s Taittinger. She continues, “That’s where you have the best ratio between air and wine and where the aging potential will be at its best.”
True bon vivants know big bottles are where it’s at. To us they scream “celebration”. They’re fun to look at, and they taste better. All solid reasons to keep a large format on hand.
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