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The importance of bottle sizes, and why?


Peter, I rummaged through my motley collection of old labels and think this may come into the rare category, I have no idea where it is from, though I would guess one contributor on here will know !
It would also qualify for the critter section or whatever, but I really cannot remember what it was where it came from and was it any good, probably not and I only kept the label because it was different.

I also have a question for Robert who may be able to help, in my labels I have a rare, for me, label from a bottle of '73 Lafite, the last time I actually purchased that Chateau, the label states 73cl, when did the uniform 75cl come into being ?

Interestingly the label above quotes 70cl.

What wine do you hate ... and what would it take to get you to try it?
Favourite English wines

My Cyrillic is pretty shoddy, but I think it says Vinprom at the top, which the search engine seems to suggest is a Bulgarian producer, if that helps!



The answer to the first question (where it is from) is probably Bulgaria. I’ve not come across this wine, but it reads “Mecha Krub” which (not coincidentally) refers to a bear or bear cub (I think)

The cyrillic is different for Bulgaria, and the “price” quoted on the bottom right is 2.2 Leva (LV)

The answer to the 75 cl is that it became standard in the 1970s. Interestingly it appears that 1973 was the year most started using the 75cl standard, but this winery must have had some left-over smaller bottles!

OK, some more translation

Cherveno Vino c ostatuchna zajar
Red Wine with Residual Sugar (sounds LOVELY!)


Ha … so is mine , Chervino vino :rofl:,
I learnt "get yourself by " Russian while I lived in Baku !
It was essential for thwarting unscrupulous taxi drivers :rofl:.


The 75cl standard was an average content though, wasn’t it? If I recall, the earlier standards tended to be minimum content standards, though 70cl sounds more like a spirits bottle.




Interestingly my 1974 Barolo was 72cl.


That’s getting very precise! :laughing: not unlike the 62cl Vin Jeune clavelin. Incidentally, I read somewhere that the US doesn’t allow imports of Vin Jeune because of its bottle size?! Anyone knows why is that? :thinking:


There’s some interesting (and occasionally contradictory!) stuff in there, Robert.

Although I was trying to make a slightly different point. Which was that in the general standardisation moves of the 1970’s, one of the other things that got addressed was a standardisation in what the stated volume meant. If I recall, prior to then, if you sold a bottle labelled “75cl” in the UK, it had to contain 75cl. Filling machines having natural variability meant that in practice, much wine was labelled with a lower volume, often 72cl. Other countries varied - I think France was on the “average contents” system, which we are all on now. Which incidentally is what that character that looks like an “e” (but is actually a special character) means.

So in practice, some of the stated contents of older bottles don’t always reflect a difference in bottle size, but rather a change in the law.

I’ve just looked at a few bottles of wine. All the English and the Italian wines have the “e”, none bar one of the French ones do. I guess that reflects the history of this change.

On that “e” symbol

(I hope I got that right).


Robert is too young to remember (lucky Robert) @Ghost-of-Mr-Tallis is correct.

The bottle was 75cl, until the UK joined the EEC (later EU) British consumer law said that the contents of a bottle/packet etc had to be no less than as stated on the packaging.

EU law states the bottle/package size is stated (hence the rounded ‘e’ sign as an approved size), the contents should average that.

Under ancient Britsih consumer law it was a serious offence to give short measures - hence the bakers dozen and the cottage loaf - and so 75cl bottles for the UK market stated 73cl, magnums stated 148cl etc to cover themselves.

Also, some wineries started reducing the size of their bottles to 70cl to give them a more competitive price - some English wineries were quite keen on doing that. (and other drink makers are currently reducing packaging size to reduce prices in light of sugar tax, but there’s no law on standard sizes for coca-cola etc.

Standardisation on 75cl bottles is good IMO.

Your Lafite would have had a 75cl label for sale in France, for UK 73cl. Same wine content, same bottle


For that total explanation of the situation at that time, I thank you because I had not a clue…


That decision has already been taken, it’s a matter of fact.

Afterwards hopefully we can buy the wine.

Churchill used to have an ‘imp’ (Imperial pint) of Bollinger every day.

I get through a lot of half-bottles of Champagne as aperitifs, and I think a 50cl size would be good. I don’t know why we can’t have 50cl bottles of fizz, I’m pretty sure Waitrose introduced a line of still wines in 50cl bottles a couple of year ago. Currently they have 50cl Ports and one Italian sweetie.

Favourite English wines

That is interesting, when I visited Maximun Grunhauser in the Ruwer in 2014 I purchased several wines and they were packed in a box for me to take home, when I opened them I was astonished to see one lot of spatlese were in 50cl bottles, there was an explanation they had sold out of that particular wine in the standard size, no they did not charge me for the full size, but I have never seen that size in Germany only the half bottles and larger sizes.


50cl is one of the EU “standard” size of bottles. I’m pretty sure this is just all a marketing wheeze to catch the headlines. The reason you don’t see more 50cl bottles is that more people don’t buy them! If more interesting wines were available in them I would certainly buy a few. It’s quite commonly used for sweet wines though. There is at least one champagne grower selling in 50cl bottles.

(The “imp” = 568ml was certainly one of the superceded sizes)

I’m definitely interested to see what transpires at Rathfinny, but we’ve been getting a fairly non-stop barrage of publicity about this estate. All credit to them for cranking the handle, but at some point it will start revolving around how good their wines are, and that remains to be seen.


A post was merged into an existing topic: Favourite English wines


All alcohol is sold (in the UK) in controlled sizes - the law specifies ‘weights and measures’

For whatever reason, 500ml (or 50cl) is NOT on the list of allowed sizes.

(note the special exception for ‘Vin Jaune’)


p.s. I think I might move these (and other conversations on bottle sizes) to a new topic as it is obviously of interest, but not really related to the other aspects of the conversations :slight_smile:


Gosh, so I see! I’m sure it used to be, and there is definitely the occasional example from other EU countries as Google will confirm.

(According to that list, The Society is also breaking the law by selling its salmanazars etc. though I’m sure you are probably not. )

I’ve just beetled off to look at the underlying EU directives, and it seems it all changed following a Directive in 2007 (The Scotch Whisky trade body is on record then as having lobbied that spirits all had to be in 70cl rather than 75cl bottles). Presumably this one also changed then?


We’re safe, but thanks for asking :wink: :

After the data table it shows:

You can sell packaged alcohol in any volume if it’s below the minimum or above the maximum allowed for specified quantities.

I have not checked the underlying EU rules but recall that 70cl issue was ‘live’ not that long ago, but as I rarely drink any spirits, it rather passed me by



That’s the original harmonisation directive from 1974. So I don’t think 50cl has been allowed since at least then (and the fact that provisional arrangements only exist for 57cl (I think they mean a pint) and 77cl implies that it wasn’t widespread even before then).