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Recently, the bottle has become a standard unit of volume to describe sales in the wine industry, measuring 750 millilitres (26 imp fl oz; 25 US fl oz). However, bottles are produced in a variety of volumes and shapes.
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The chart below expresses the sizes of various wine bottles in multiples relating to a standard bottle of wine, which is 0.75 litres (0.20 U.S. gal; 0.16 imp gal). Many common sizes are named for Biblical kings and historical figures.
Most champagne houses are unable to carry out secondary fermentation in bottles larger than a magnum due to the difficulty in riddling large, heavy bottles. After the secondary fermentation completes, the champagne must be transferred from the magnums into larger bottles, which results in a loss of pressure. Some believe this re-bottling exposes the champagne to greater oxidation and therefore results in an inferior product compared to champagne which remains in the bottle in which it was fermented.
|0.1875||0.25||Piccolo||"Small" in Italian. Also known as a quarter bottle, pony, snipe or split.||Yes|
|0.25||0.33||Chopine||Traditional French unit of volume||Yes|
|0.375||0.5||Demi||"Half" in French. Also known as a half bottle.||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|0.378||0.505||Tenth||One tenth of a U.S. gallon*|
|Also known as a 50 cl bottle. Used for Tokaj, Sauternes, Jerez, as well as several other types of sweet wines.|
|0.620||0.83||Clavelin||Primarily used for vin jaune.|
|0.757||1.01||Fifth||One-fifth of a U.S. gallon*|
|1.0||1.33||Litre||Popular size for Austrian wines.|
|2.25||3||Marie Jeanne||Also known as a Tregnum or Tappit Hen in the port wine trade.||Yes|
|3.0||4||Jeroboam (a.k.a. Double Magnum)||Biblical, First king of Northern Kingdom. "Jeroboam" has different meanings (that is, indicates different sizes) for different regions in France.||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|4.5||6||Rehoboam||Biblical, First king of separate Judea||Yes||Yes|
|6.0||8||Methuselah||Biblical, Oldest Man||Yes||Yes|
|9.0||12||Salmanazar||Biblical, Assyrian King[disambiguation needed]||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|12.0||16||Balthazar||One of three Wise Men to present a gift to Jesus after his birth||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|15.0||20||Nebuchadnezzar||Biblical, King of Babylon||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|18.0||24||Melchior||One of three Wise Men to present a gift to Jesus after his birth||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|20.0||26.66||Solomon||Biblical, King of Israel, Son of David||Yes|
|27.0||36||Primat or Goliath||Biblical stoned by David||Yes|
|30.0||40||Melchizedek||Biblical, King of Salem||Yes|
* For many years, the U.S. standard (non-metric) wine and liquor bottle was the "fifth", meaning one-fifth of a U.S. gallon, or 25.6 U.S. fluid ounces (757 ml; 26.6 imp fl oz). Some beverages also came in tenth-gallon, half-gallon and one-gallon sizes. In 1979, the U.S. adopted the metric system for wine bottles, with the basic bottle becoming 750 ml, as in Europe.
Many North and South American, South African, and Australasian wine producers select the bottle shape with which they wish to associate their wines. For instance, a producer who believes his wine is similar to Burgundy may choose to bottle his wine in Burgundy-style bottles.
Other producers (both in and out of Europe) have chosen idiosyncratic bottle styles for marketing purposes. Pere-Anselme markets its Châteauneuf-du-Pape in bottles that appear half-melted. The Moselland company of Germany has a riesling with a bottle in the shape of a house cat.
The home wine maker may use any bottle, as the shape of the bottle does not affect the taste of the finished product. The sole exception is in producing sparkling wine, where thicker-walled bottles should be used to handle the excess pressure.
Most wine bottles standards have a bore (inner neck) diameter of 18.5 at the mouth of the bottle and increase to 21 mm before expanding into the full bottle.
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The traditional colours used for wine bottles are:
Clear colourless bottles have recently become popular with white wine producers in many countries, including Greece, Canada and New Zealand. Dark-coloured bottles are most commonly used for red wines, but many white wines also still come in dark green bottles. The main reason for using coloured or tinted glass is that natural sunlight can break down desirable antioxidants such as vitamin c and tannins in a wine over time, which affects storability and can cause a wine to prematurely oxidise. Dark glass can prevent oxidation and increase storage life. It is therefore mostly ready-to-drink white wines with a short anticipated storage lifespan which are bottled in clear colourless bottles.
Commercial corked wine bottles typically have a protective sleeve called a foil (commonly referred to as a "capsule") covering the top of the bottle, the purpose of which is to protect the cork from being gnawed away by rodents or infested with the cork weevil and to serve as collar to catch small drips when pouring. The foil also serves as a decorative element of the bottle's label. Foils were historically made of lead; however, because of research showing that trace amounts of toxic lead could remain on the lip of the bottle and mix with the poured wine, lead foil bottleneck wrapping were slowly phased out, and by the 1990s, most foils were made of tin, heat-shrink plastic (polyethylene or PVC), or aluminium or polylaminate aluminium. Sealing wax is sometimes used, or the foil can be omitted entirely. In the US, the FDA officially banned lead foils on domestic and imported wine bottles as of 1996.
Some bottles of wine have a paper strip beneath the foil, as a seal of authenticity, which must be broken before the bottle can be uncorked.
A punt, also known as a kick-up, refers to the dimple at the bottom of a wine bottle. There is no consensus explanation for its purpose. The more commonly cited explanations include:
Glass retains its colour on recycling, and the United Kingdom has a large surplus of green glass because it imports a large quantity of wine but produces very little. 1.4 million tonnes are sent to landfill annually.
Glass is a relatively heavy packing material and wine bottles use quite thick glass, so the tare weight of a full wine bottle is a relatively high proportion of its gross weight. The average weight of an empty 750 ml wine bottle is 500 g (and can range from 300 to 900 g), which makes the glass 40% of the total weight of the full bottle. This has led to suggestions that wine should be exported in bulk from producer regions and bottled close to the market. This would reduce the cost of transportation and its carbon footprint, and provide a local market for recycled green glass. Less radically, box wine is sold in large-size light cardboard and foil containers, though its use has been restricted to cheaper products in the past and as such retains a stigma. Following declining sales of wine boxes in the UK, in 2009 the Office for National Statistics removed them from its Consumer Price Index measure of inflation. Some wine producers are exploring more alternative packagings such as plastic bottles and tetra packs.
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