The transparent green of a typical wine bottle
A square wine bottle

A wine bottle is a bottle, generally a glass bottle, that is used for holding wine. Some wines are fermented in the bottle while others are bottled only after fermentation. Recently the bottle has become a standard unit of volume to describe sales in the wine industry, measuring 750 millilitres (26.40 imp fl oz; 25.36 US fl oz). Wine bottles are produced, however, in a variety of volumes and shapes.[1]

Wine bottles are traditionally sealed with a cork, but screw-top caps are becoming popular, and there are several other methods used to seal a bottle.[2][3][4]


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Many traditional wine bottle sizes are named for Biblical kings and historical figures.[5] The chart below[6] lists the sizes of various wine bottles in multiples relating to a standard bottle of wine, which is 0.75 litres (0.20 US gal; 0.16 imp gal) (six 125 mL servings). The "wineglassful"—an official unit of the apothecaries' system of weights—is much smaller at 2.5 imp fl oz (71 mL).

Most champagne houses are unable to carry out secondary fermentation in bottles larger than a magnum due to the difficulty in riddling large, heavy bottles. After the secondary fermentation completes, the champagne must be transferred from the magnums into larger bottles, which results in a loss of pressure. Some believe this re-bottling exposes the champagne to greater oxidation and therefore results in an inferior product compared to champagne which remains in the bottle in which it was fermented.[7]

Volume (litres) Ratio Name Notes Champagne Bordeaux Burgundy
0.1875 0.25 Piccolo "Small" in Italian. Also known as a "quarter bottle", "pony", "snipe" or "split". In Germany, the very popular "Piccolo" for sparkling wine is (predominantly) 0.2 litres, however (see below). Yes
0.2 0.2667 Quarter Used for Champagne and sparkling wine Yes[8]
0.25 0.33 Chopine Traditional French unit of volume Yes
0.375 0.5 Demi "Half" in French. Also known as a "half bottle". Common for ice wine Yes "half"[8] Yes Yes
0.378 0.505 Tenth One tenth of a US gallon*
0.5 0.67 Used for Tokaj, Sauternes, Jerez, as well as several other types of sweet wines, also common for cheaper wines in Switzerland Yes "demie" or "pinte"[8]
0.620 0.83 Clavelin Primarily used for vin jaune
0.750 1 Standard Yes[8] Yes Yes
0.757 1.01 Fifth One-fifth of a US gallon* (before 1979)
1.0 1.33 Litre Popular size for Austrian wines
1.5 2 Magnum Yes[8] Yes Yes
2.25 3 Marie Jeanne Also known as a "tregnum" or "tappit hen" in the port wine trade Yes
3.0 4 Double Magnum Yes Yes Yes
3.0 4 Jeroboam Biblical, first king of Northern Kingdom. "Jeroboam" indicates different sizes in different regions of France.[9] Yes[8] Yes Yes
4.5 6 Yes
4.5 6 Rehoboam Biblical, first king of separate Judea Yes[8] Yes
5.0 6.67 McKenzie Uncommon, primarily found in France Yes
6.0 8 Imperial Yes
6.0 8 Methuselah Biblical, oldest man Yes[8] Yes
9.0 12 Salmanazar Biblical, Assyrian king Yes[8] Yes Yes
12.0 16 Balthazar or Belshazzar[10] Balthazar—one of three Wise Men to present gifts at Jesus' nativity; Belshazzar can also denote the co-regent of Babylon during the absence of Nabonidus, who had seized control after several brief reigns following Nebuchadnezzar, for whom the next-larger bottle size is named. Yes[8] Yes Yes
15.0 20 Nebuchadnezzar[11] Biblical, King of Babylon Yes[8] Yes Yes
18.0 24 Melchior One of three Wise Men to present gifts at Jesus' nativity Yes Yes Yes
20.0 26 Solomon Biblical, King of Israel, son of David Yes[8]
26.25 35 Sovereign Reportedly created by Taittinger in 1988 for the launch of the then-world's largest cruise liner Sovereign of the Seas[12] Yes[8]
27.0 36 Primat or Goliath "Primat" likely from the Late Latin prīmās (chief, noble); Goliath—Biblical, killed by David Yes[8] Yes
30.0 40 Melchizedek or Midas Melchizedek—Biblical, King of Salem; Midas may refer to the mythical king of Phrygia in Greek mythology Yes[8]

* For many years, the US standard (non-metric) wine and liquor bottle was the "fifth", meaning one-fifth of a US gallon, or 25.6 US fluid ounces (757 mL; 26.6 imp fl oz). Some beverages also came in tenth-gallon [12.8 US fluid ounces (379 mL; 13.3 imp fl oz)], eighth-gallon [1 US pint, or 16 US fluid ounces (473 mL; 16.7 imp fl oz)], sixth-gallon [22 US fluid ounces (651 mL; 22.9 imp fl oz)], fourth-gallon [1 US quart, or 32 US fluid ounces (946 mL; 33.3 imp fl oz)], half-gallon [64 US fluid ounces (1,890 mL; 66.6 imp fl oz)] and one-gallon [128 US fluid ounces (3,790 mL; 133 imp fl oz)] sizes.[13] In 1979, the US adopted the metric system for liquor bottles, with the basic wine bottle becoming 750 mL, as in Europe.


This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources in this section. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.Find sources: "Wine bottle" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (June 2017) (Learn how and when to remove this message)
Side-by-side comparison of various sizes of champagne bottles (left to right), on the ladder: magnum, full, half, and quarter; on the floor: Balthazar, Salmanazar, Methuselah, and Jeroboam.
Comparison of Standard and McKenzie Bordeaux bottles

Wine producers in Portugal, Italy, Spain, France and Germany follow the tradition of their local areas in choosing the shape of bottle most appropriate for their wine.

Many North and South American, South African, and Australasian wine producers select the bottle shape with which they wish to associate their wines. For instance, a producer who believes his wine is similar to Burgundy may choose to bottle his wine in Burgundy-style bottles.[citation needed]

A flat PET bottle and a cardboard carton in which it can be delivered postally

Other producers (both in and out of Europe) have chosen idiosyncratic bottle styles for marketing purposes. Pere-Anselme markets its Châteauneuf-du-Pape in bottles that appear half-melted. The Moselland company of Bernkastel-Kues in Germany has a Riesling with a bottle in the shape of a stylized cat.[15] The British company Garçon Wines makes a flat wine bottle from recycled PET which is flat enough to fit through a letterbox and hence can be delivered by post.[16][17]

The home wine maker may use any bottle, as the shape of the bottle does not affect the taste of the finished product. The sole exception is in producing sparkling wine, where thicker-walled bottles should be used to handle the excess pressure.

Most wine bottles standards have a bore (inner neck) diameter of 18.5 mm at the mouth of the bottle and increase to 21 mm before expanding into the full bottle.

Foils and netting

A paper strip beneath the foil

Commercial corked wine bottles typically have a protective sleeve called a foil (commonly referred to as a "capsule") covering the top of the bottle, the purpose of which is to protect the cork from being gnawed away by rodents or infested with the cork weevil and to serve as collar to catch small drips when pouring. The foil also serves as a decorative element of the bottle's label. Foils were historically made of lead, but research showed that trace amounts of toxic lead could remain on the lip of the bottle and mix with the poured wine,[18] so lead foil wrapping was slowly phased out, and by the 1990s,[19] most foils were made of tin, heat-shrink plastic (polyethylene, PVC), aluminium or polylaminate aluminium.

Sealing wax is sometimes used, or the foil can be omitted entirely.[20] In the US, the FDA officially banned lead foils on domestic and imported wine bottles as of 1996.[21]

Some bottles of wine have a paper strip beneath the foil, as a seal of authenticity, which must be broken before the bottle can be uncorked. Bottles of high-end Rioja wine may have a covering of gold wire netting, Spaniard Camilo Hurtado de Amézaga, Marqués de Riscal founded a winery in Rioja, in 1858, naming it after his own noble title, which had been created in 1708 by Philip V.[citation needed] He produced award-winning wines which became the preferred wines of King Alfonso XII. Camilo Hurtado de Amézaga invented a wire netting that covered his bottle, thereby preventing counterfeiters from substituting the wine, since it was impossible to remove the netting without breaking it. Modern day bottles of Rioja carry a much finer wire netting as a decoration.[22]


An empty (Bordeaux-style) wine bottle with a punt at its base.

A punt, also known as a kick-up, is the dimple at the bottom of a wine bottle. There is no consensus explanation for its purpose. The more commonly cited explanations include:[2]

Environmental impact

Glass retains its color on recycling, and the United Kingdom has a large surplus of green glass because it imports a large quantity of wine but produces very little. Annually 1.4 million tons are sent to landfill.[26]

Glass is a relatively heavy packing material and wine bottles use quite thick glass, so the tare weight of a full wine bottle is a relatively high proportion of its gross weight. The average weight of an empty 750 mL wine bottle is 500 g (and can range from 300 to 900 g), which makes the glass 40% of the total weight of the full bottle.[27] This has led to suggestions that wine should be exported in bulk from producer regions and bottled close to the market. This would reduce the cost of transportation and its carbon footprint, and provide a local market for recycled green glass.[28][29]

Less radically, boxed wine is sold in large, light-weight, foil-lined cardboard containers, though its use has been restricted to cheaper products in the past and as such retains a stigma. Following declining sales of wine boxes in the UK, in 2009 the Office for National Statistics removed them from its Consumer Price Index measure of inflation.[30] Some wine producers are exploring more alternative packagings such as plastic bottles and tetra packs.[31]

See also


  1. ^ "Wine Bottle Sizes". Bordeaux Traders. Archived from the original on 28 January 2018. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  2. ^ a b Johnson, Hugh (2004). The Story of Wine. Sterling Publishing. ISBN 1-84000-972-1.
  3. ^ Jackson, Ron (1997). Conserve Water, Drink Wine: Recollections of a Vinous Voyage of Discovery. Haworth Press. ISBN 1-56022-864-4.
  4. ^ MacNeil, Karen (2001). The Wine Bible. Workman. ISBN 1-56305-434-5.
  5. ^ Philologos (19 July 2017). "Why Are Extremely Large Wine Bottles Named after Biblical Kings? The convoluted story of jeroboams, rehoboams, methuselahs, and more". Mosaic Magazine. Retrieved 20 July 2017.
  6. ^ "Wine 101: Wine Bottle Sizes and Designations". Retrieved 26 November 2014.[self-published source]
  7. ^ "Champagne Bottle Sizes". Adore Champagne. Retrieved 11 April 2014.[self-published source]
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "Different bottle styles". The Comité Champagne. Comité Interprofessionnel du vin de Champagne. Retrieved 23 December 2014.
  9. ^ "Jeroboam Wine Facts". Archived from the original on 11 December 2008. Retrieved 26 December 2008.[self-published source]
  10. ^ "Balthazar, n.". Oxford English Dictionary. Forms: Also Balthasar, Belshazzar.
  11. ^ Manser, Martin H.; Pickering, David H., eds. (2003). The Facts on File dictionary of classical and biblical allusions. New York, NY: Checkmark Books. p. 257. ISBN 9780816048687.
  12. ^ "Champagne bottle sizes". Retrieved 23 December 2014.
  13. ^ House & Garden, 147:7-12:132.
  14. ^ Amerine, M.A.; Singleton, V.L. (1977). Wine: An Introduction (2nd ed.). University of California Press. p. 315.
  15. ^ "Moselland Blue Cat Riesling, Mosel, Germany: prices". Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  16. ^ Smithers, Rebecca (27 February 2019). "Flat wine bottles could cut costs and emissions, says firm". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  17. ^ Alexander, Saffron (12 January 2017). "Say cheers to the ingenious flat wine bottle that gets delivered straight through your letterbox". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 12 January 2022. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  18. ^ Fisher, Lawrence M. (2 August 1991). "Lead Levels in Many Wines Exceed U.S. Standards for Water". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 January 2010.
  19. ^ "CFR – Code of Federal Regulations Title 21". FDA U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved 27 June 2015.[1].
  20. ^ "30 Second Wine Advisor". Retrieved 2 January 2010.[self-published source]
  21. ^ "Justia: 21 C.F.R. § 189.301 Tin-coated lead foils for wine bottles". 8 February 1996. Retrieved 2 January 2010.
  22. ^ "Why Rioja Bottles Are Wrapped in Gold Wire – To Stop Thieves". VinePair. 25 February 2015. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  23. ^ (MacNeil 2001).
  24. ^ Singh, Magandeep (2005). Wine Wisdom. New Delhi: Penguin Books India. p. 187.
  25. ^ a b "Punt Wine Bottle Indentation". Retrieved 2 January 2010.[self-published source]
  26. ^ Hickman, Leo (9 May 2006). "Is it OK ... to drink wine?". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 November 2007.
  27. ^ "The WRAP Wine Initiative" (PDF). Retrieved 14 September 2011.
  28. ^ Lamb, Garth. "Carbon copy". Waste Management & Environment. Archived from the original on 31 August 2007. Retrieved 22 November 2007. If wine was imported in bulk vats and then bottled locally, the market for the most beneficial recycling option would increase.
  29. ^ "New Wine Bottle Project" (Press release). British Glass. 15 September 2006. Archived from the original on 21 June 2007. Retrieved 22 November 2007.
  30. ^ "Chicken in the basket of UK goods". BBC. Retrieved 15 November 2013. Wine boxes, MP3 players and rentals from DVD hire shops have been removed to make way, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
  31. ^ "Eco-Smart Cartons". Retrieved 22 June 2017.

General and cited references