Magnums vs. Half Bottles: Why Bigger Isn't Always Better

Magnums vs. Half Bottles: Why Bigger Isn't Always Better

Everyone knows the standard 75cl wine bottle. Not so well-known, however, is why this is the standard. Alternatively a size determined by the lung capacity of ancient glassblowers or the average amount one drank during dinner, the origins of this classic format are muddled. Iconic and standardized as it may be, it is not the only format for wine. While a whole range exists, there are two next most common, fascinating contenders that many argue enhance the wine experience: the half bottle (also known as a 'demi' or 'split'), and the majestic magnum. Let's delve into the unique charm of these two sizes and see what sets them apart.

The Majesty of the Magnum

TURN HEADS: When it comes to wine presentation, the magnum is unrivalled. This 1.5-litre vessel (two standard 75cl bottles) not only provides more wine, but its striking presence makes it a centrepiece, turning any event into a grand occasion. Serving wine from a magnum is a gesture that showcases thought, care, and a touch of opulence. It speaks volumes about the host's appreciation for fine wines and the desire to offer guests something special.

RAISE A GLASS, OR TEN: The generous volume (10 x regular glasses) of the magnum ensures there's always enough to go around, keeping the conversation lively and glasses continuously filled.

IMPROVED MATURATION: Magnums aren't just about quantity; there's a science to why they can elevate your wine experience. Due to their size and volume-to-surface area ratio, magnums are believed to offer superior ageing conditions:

  • Micro-Oxygenation: Both magnums and standard 75cl bottles typically use openings and corks of similar size. However, the magnum has twice the volume of wine. The result is a reduced oxygen-to-wine ratio, leading to a slower and more controlled oxidation processes. Oxidation plays a vital role in the ageing of wine, and its slow progression in magnums can allow for a wine's more graceful development over time.
  • Consistency is Key: The larger volume in magnums also buffers against temperature fluctuations. Why is this important? Rapid temperature shifts can expedite the ageing process, typically in an unfavourable way. A magnum, with its greater volume, is less susceptible to these variations, ensuring a consistent ageing environment. This is particularly crucial for wines that benefit from long-term cellaring.
  • The Sediment Factor: Over time, as wines age, they can develop sediment. The larger format of magnums can result in better sediment distribution, leading to clearer pours when the wine is eventually decanted.

CHAMPAGNE'S GRANDEUR AMPLIFIED: Champagne, with its delicate bubbles and nuanced flavours, has a unique relationship with the magnum format. Many experts argue that magnums are the optimal size for ageing champagne. The reasons? Reduced oxygen exposure due to the cork size and the larger volume leads to slower yeast autolysis, which can bring out more subtle and complex flavours in the bubbly.

The Delights of a 'Demi':

DISCOVER MORE: A half bottle provides the perfect portion for expanding your palate, allowing you to sample a wider range new wines and regions without the full commitment of a larger bottle.

COMPACT & CONVENIENT: A half bottle's 375ml volume provides an optimal serving for two, perfect for picnics, beach trips or even wine pairings during meals. 

ZERO WASTE, TOTAL ENJOYMENT: Relish every sip without worrying about unfinished wine. It's a fresh experience every time, with no concerns of wasted vino.

BUDGET-FRIENDLY LUXURY: Experience the crème de la crème of wines without the usual splurge. It's a savvy way to indulge in premium vintages or intriguing grapes you've been eager to try.


Size in wine is a fascinating exploration. While the standard 75cl bottle has its own historical and practical reasons, venturing beyond this standard opens up a world of stories and experiences. From the elegance of a magnum to the grandiosity of a Nebuchadnezzar, every size has its tale.

 As the saying goes, “A magnum bottle of wine is the perfect size for two people if one of them isn’t drinking.” A humorous take, that underscores the joy and elegance that different bottle sizes bring.

So, as the festive season beckons, consider this: Does size matter in wine? We believe it absolutely does. And there's no better time than now to explore and experience it.