Decoding Champagne Wine Bottle Sizes & Names.

To find this image, I searched for "riding cork"...and for come reason the first image that came up was a bunch of naked people riding bikes. No joke! Try it for yourself!It was the French Benedictine monk Dom Perignon (1638-1715) who proclaimed, “Come quickly! I am drinking stars!”, (NB: probably because Champagne makes everyone yell silly things) so it makes perfect sense that the range of Champagne bottles take their names from figures inspired by the bible.

Before we get started, it’s worth pointing out that apart from magnum and jeroboam, very few of these names are ever been used seriously. However, I always seem to get asked about the names of the various sizes of wine bottle, and what they mean, so I thought it was post-worthy:



Size: 1.5 liters or 16 glasses.
Story: Latin for “great,” a magnum is twice the volume of a regular bottle.

Size: 3 liters or 32 glasses.
Story: Named after the first king of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, who ruled for 22 years during the 10th century BC. The name means “may the people grow numerous,” which makes sense, as if you manage to get your hands on a bottle, I’m sure you’ll unexpectedly develop new friends!

Size: 4.5-liters or 48 glasses
Story: Named for the son of King Solomon and grandson of King David, who ruled the Kingdom of Judah in the 10th century BC. The name means “he who enlarges the people.”

Size: 6 liters or 64 glasses.
Story: The oldest man mentioned in the Bible, who was thought to be 969 years old and died around the time of the Great Flood that floated the Ark built by Noah. (NB: No doubt that if Methuselah had brought a “Methuselah” bottle of wine with him on the ark, he would have been the life and soul of that boat!)

Size: 9 liters or 96 glasses. 
Story: The name is thought to be an amalgamation of the names of five different Assyrian emperors who reigned between the 13th and 8th centuries BC.

Size: 12 liters or 128 glasses.
Story: Named after the 3rd Wise Man who was said to follow the Star of Bethlehem to the Nativity. Translated it means “god protect the king.”

Size: 15 liters or 160 glasses
Story: The name of the greatest, most powerful of all Babylonian kings, who ruled from the late 7th to the middle 6th century BC.

Size: 18 liters or 192 glasses.
Story: The name of the 1st of the Wise Men goes to the largest of all the Champagne bottles. Good luck pouring this one by yourself, as a full Nebuchadnezzar weighs-in at around 83.5 lbs!

Decoding Champagne Wine Bottle Sizes & Names.


  • June 2, 2012


    Is it also true that the bigger the bottle size the better the vintage?

  • June 2, 2012

    Kris Chislett

    That’s the first time I’ve heard that, but I guess it would kind-of make sense.

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