If you’re thinking of transforming your basement into a home wine cellar, you’re not alone. Installing wine cellars at home is a booming business, especially in the luxury housing market. When mapping out your cellar, you may want to know the size of a standard bottle of wine. Ninety percent of your home wine collection will likely consist of standard-size bottles.
The first dimension to consider is the height of a standard wine bottle. Some racking companies make their racks only ten inches deep, which doesn’t protect the full 11½-inch height of a standard bottle. Be sure to accommodate the full height of a standard wine bottle, because you don’t want your precious wine bottles sticking out of the neck.
The other dimensions of a bottle of wine
A standard wine bottle contains 750 milliliters of wine and is approximately 11.5 inches tall. At the base its diameter is from 27/8 to 3 inches. From bottom to top, its sides are straight, but near the top, about three-quarters of the way up, it has a rounded shoulder. This is often called a burgundy bottle because it has the usual size and shape of a bottle of red wine from that region of France.
The contents of a standard bottle equals approximately 25 ounces, so if you serve five-ounce servings, one bottle will yield approximately five glasses of wine. The size of a serving is arbitrary, but according to the American Medical Association, “…A standard drink is any drink that contains about half an ounce (13.7 grams or 1.2 tablespoons) of pure alcohol. Generally, this amount of pure alcohol is found in five ounces of wine”.
Non-standard wine bottle sizes
divisions and halves: Some bottlers and vineyards offer smaller sizes equivalent to half a bottle or even a quarter bottle. A “split” is a quarter of a standard bottle, which contains about six ounces of wine, a little more than one serving. The dividers are 7 inches tall and 2 inches in diameter. One half, as you might guess, is half the volume of a standard bottle, holding 13 ounces of wine. It stands 9½ inches tall with a 2¼” diameter at the base.
Magnum: A magnum of wine equals two bottles, or about 50 ounces. The magnum is 13½ inches tall and requires a special shelf in your cellar. The base of the magnum is 4 inches in diameter.
Big bottle: If you’re entertaining a lot of friends, you might want to open a Jeroboam. This is the big brother of the magnum. A bottle of Jeroboam contains three liters of wine, which is equivalent to four standard bottles or 20 glasses.
The shapes of wine bottles
The steep “shoulder” of the Bordeaux bottle may have evolved to help trap sediment in aged wines. Although this may be true, the shapes of wine bottles have more to do with their region of origin than a functional characteristic. Different wine regions gradually developed their own bottle shapes, and there is no requirement for a certain type of wine to occupy a certain bottle shape. To avoid consumer confusion, most bottlers adhere to conventions.
Besides the Bordeaux bottle, another commonly used shape for red wine is the Burgundy bottle. It has more sloping shoulders and a slightly wider base. It is also 11½ inches tall, but is 3½ inches in diameter at the base. Since Chardonnay is also made in Burgundy, you’ll find this varietal in a Burgundy-shaped bottle. The same is true for Pinot Noir.
German winemakers use a taller, slimmer bottle. These long-necked bottles can hold that region’s sweet dessert wines, including Riesling and Gewürztraminer. The fourth type of bottle is used in the Champagne region and is a heavier, wider-based bottle that must be able to withstand the pressure of the bubbles within.
Bonus Question: What is a punt?
There is an indentation in the bottom of some wine and champagne bottles, and it is not designed to mislead the consumer about the amount of liquid in the bottle. This hollow area is called bat, and there are various theories as to why it is there. Some say it aided in the shipping of bottles in boxes because they could line up with the top of one bottle nestled in the punt of another. A more likely theory is that when the bottles were blown by hand, blemishes in the bottom could cause instability in the bottle. To minimize the chances of a rocky bottle, the glassmaker would indent the bottom. The word probably comes from punty Prayed pontila glass blowing tool.