What is better than 750 ml of wine? Well, 1,500 ml of course! Occasionally, a winemaker will decide a particular wine is tasting particularly good and it will get bottled in a 1,500 ml size bottle known as a magnum. Wine bottle sizes go up to well over 9 L, but magnums are really the perfect ‘bonus’ — big enough to be special, but not so big that it’s scary for normal enjoyment!
Aside from just looking good and being very impressive on a dinner table, there are actual scientific reasons as to why drinking from magnum will give you a better wine experience.
Wine Ages More Slowly
The cork on a magnum bottle is the same size as on a regular 750ml bottle, so the air to wine ratio is half that of a regular bottle. Air (namely oxygen) is what ages wine, so the juice in a magnum bottle will taste only half as aged as the same wine would in a normal sized, 750 ml bottle.
Oxidation is less
Because of the reasons above, the oxidation that occurs on a magnum of wine will only be half of what occurs in a regular 750 ml bottle. The slow ingress of oxygen will theoretically be the same, but the oxygen will come in contact with twice as much wine so the effects will be slowed.
Higher quality in a large format
Sometimes we just want a larger format — maybe we have friends over, or we’re going camping, or we simply can’t be bothered opening SO MANY bottles. Magnums help with all of that, and they are most often higher quality than box wine. In North America especially, it is usually inexpensive plonk that makes its way into a box of wine.
Winemakers rarely want to put fine wine in a bladder bag, but will sometimes make a special bottling of magnums for a particularly good vintage. These are not necessarily expensive, but are high quality with good value. Magnums can be found at all quality levels and price points and definitely not only high end — there are many magnums that average out to less than $25.00 a bottle.
They are fun!
Walk in to a party or show up at a BBQ with a large bottle and heads will turn. Magnums are still rare enough that people always want to see what is going on when one appears. Plus, they’re totally insta-friendly.
Magnums at City Cellars
We have some excellent BBQ friendly magnums options on the shelf:
A Portuguese blend ($47.00) from Cabriz Winery in the Dao
Vivanco Crianza ($44.00) - a favourite from Rioja, Spain, which is perfect if slightly chilled on a hot and sunny day. Throw it on ice for a few minutes just like they do in Spain!
A beautiful bottling available in two vintages (2006 and 2007) from one of Spain’s most iconic wineries - Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia Reserva ($145.00).