01438 741177         thewinesociety.com

Magnums and larger... where do you stand?


In response to the daylight reduction but, in advance of our December festivals, I was wondering how you all feel about the larger bottle? Is it just too large or is it largesse? Fun or frippery? A way of laying down for longer? If you buy the larger bottle why? And if you don’t, why not?
Whilst browsing the Burgundy offer I cam across this.

Would you like the bottle or the magnum?


Standing, I’m probably about two nebuchadnezzers :relieved:

Practically I quite like magnums if there’s a crowd of you and you don’t want too many bottles crowding a table or surface. Anything bigger and personally I think they’re just for show, “mine’s bigger than yours!” Are the contents going to be that much better when it’s in a much bigger bottle? Please enlighten me if they will!


Not necessarily, but I do remember being told in a winery in Mallorca that wines age much slower in bigger bottles; something to do with the ratio of the volume to the surface area through which the air gets in (i.e. the cork). As the wine ages better in larger format bottles, it follows that the wine would be better - but how true it is I don’t know.

We rarely ever purchase our wine in larger bottles - Xmas being the exception. I find them cumbersome, and anything bigger than a Magnum just seems a bit silly.

Then again, I don’t routinely age wine, so what do I know!


Oh that does make sense actually, maybe bigger is better!


Depends on the context… I wouldn’t extrapolate!!.. :wink:


Bit bottles do age more slowly due to the physics outlined by @Inbar above.

A magnum is nice for a suitable sized gathering too. Anything bigger would result in serious tennis elbow recurrence for me and possible consequential disaster for the wine!


… and therein lies the challenge. I have bought a reasonable number of magnums to ease ageing and also beacause of “show”. If you know you’re going to drink 4 bottles of champagne for a special party, why not get the Jeroboam? Sure, it’s outrageous and decedent but, wow, it’s also a great talking point over the years. I get the “bigger” argument, but when you look at a few quid for the showmanship, is it bragging or just extra “Je ne said quoi”?
I don’t buy magnums where it’s silly additional cost, but, … for a few dollars more?


I’m all for magnums… …although I do worry sometimes that by bringing one out people will think I’m, er, compensating for something. They just look awesome though. I’ve got some Courac Laudun 2015, Caronne Ste Gemme 2016 and Thalabert 2016 in the EP/reserves pipeline, plus a few miscellaneous ones in the garage for whenever.

It’s rare but fun when we have enough people a) round our house for the afternoon/evening; and b) all drinking the right colour. And I usually fail to hide my excitement that we’ve got a critical mass of people to open a magnum.

When the other half discovered that a magnum was no cheaper than two regular bottles, and indeed was usually slightly more, she asked, “why bother then?”

My supremely articulate reply was, “because … it’s … well, they’re … umm … because they’re great!”


I remember when I was working at a wine merchant’s head office, close to christmas and we opened a massive bottle of champagne (can’t remember how big exactly) the wine was almost totally flat. Anything bigger than a magnum strikes me as unnecessary.
I have only rarely bought a magnum myself, but for a big party or as a special gift they do come into their own and of course it is seen as the ideal size for aging fine wine.


I only ever buy magnums at Christmas, easy to put a bottle of wine on the table if there are lots who are after it. The issue I have however is that if say you buy a red wine and a white wine in magnum (4 bottles worth of wine) there are only 2 choices of wine whereas you could have 4 different wines for the same quantity if they were in 75cl.

For me I would go for a single magnum of a crowd pleaser and then a few normal sized bottles of something different.


So … did anyone go for the jeroboam of Madiran in the recent offer?

“It’s so big, so long-lasting … you know you want to…”


Who can resist six times the tannins…?! :woozy_face:


Drink date 2035 to the acopalypse


Quite a short drinking window then…


Actually a point worth noting then is that half bottles, presumably, will age faster.


Yes they will.


Also worth noting that most Champage houses will disgorge by hand for anything bigger than a standard bottle.


I love them. Whilst only about 5% of my bottles are Magnums they add to the anticipation as they’ll nearly always be drunk with good friends.
Magnum = party, count me in.


Over many years now I’ve deliberately bought both bottles and magnums of the same wine. In the long term the magnums invariably have the edge on quality. Sometimes that difference is slight - eg the Jaume Cuvee Reference 2011 - other times it is really very noticeable - eg Grand Puy Lacoste 1989 or Palmer 85. Based on my own experience, I’d summarise that the better the wine the bigger difference the larger format makes. I’ve never had the reverse experience - ie bottles best.

The main downside of magnums is they take up a lot of space in a Eurocave. Double magnums even more so. However the wow factor when you serve one is probably worth it.

Personally I was very disappointed to see no mags of 2016 Port offered EP. There are also Rhône estates that offer larger formats but these are not always available via TWS (eg La Crau de ma Mere). I’d love to know whether this is an allocation issue (ie TWS simply can’t access them) or a conscious choice not to offer?


Many years ago I was at a Manchester Wine Society tasting presented by wine man Christopher Fielden (returning briefly to his roots). His tasting was of red wines from 6 estates each wine served both in bottle and magnum from the same vintage. His opening remark was that a magnum of wine was perfect for 2 people if one’s partner only wanted 1 glass.