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The consistent verdict from the experts is that wine from bigger bottles lasts
longer, and tastes consistently better, than when matured in standard 75cl size
bottles. Who can fail to appreciate the craftsmanship in a spectacular
bottle, or the sense of excitement and anticipation as the cork is skilfully
eased from its neck?
Serving fine wines from giant bottles will make any occasion special, however,
you can elevate the experience even further by utilizing one of our
View our full range of Luxury Wine Accessories
We’re the experts in large formats
AWC is the international market leader in supplying the finest wines in
large-format bottles to the world's leading hotels and restaurants. Our range
includes all sizes from Magnums to the impressive Melchior, from the top grand
cru châteaux to more modest wines suitable for banquets and big events.
supply the Magnum, Marie Jeanne, Double Magnum, Jeroboam, Rehoboam, Imperial
Methuselah, Shalmaneser, Balthazar, Nebuchadnezzar and Melchior. So choose your
bottle, select your wine, and create a stir!
Why are large formats better for wine?
Wines can be matured in casks, big bottles, or standard (75cl)
bottles. In-cask maturation is much more rapid, because oxygen continues to
enter through the wood, feeding the wine and making it 'grow'.
On the other
hand, when a wine is bottled, it takes a 'deep breath' as it enters its new home
and this little oxygen, together with tiny quantities which still enter through
or around the cork, ensures that growth continues—but much more slowly. This is
important for wines which are to be kept for long periods. Wines left in barrels
for a long time grow old before they mature properly. Only in the security of
the bottle can the process of maturity continue until a wine reaches perfection.
The key to bigger formats is the size of that first ‘deep breath’. Larger
bottles tend to have a similar neck size to smaller bottles, so the amount of
air captured in the neck of the bottle is also similar. In bigger bottles,
therefore, there’s a proportionately small amount of air for the volume of wine.
For the largest format (Melchior), this can be 20 times smaller than for a
regular 75cl bottle. The result is a slower process of ‘growth’, allowing the
wine to mature to perfection before becoming old, remaining in excellent
condition longer than wine in ordinary bottles.
Apart from the science, there is
the undoubted heightened enjoyment of a group of diners sharing exactly the same
experience from the same bottle of perfectly matured wine.
How big are large-format bottles?
That’s not as simple as it might at first seem. While the
Melchior always contains the equivalent of 24 standard bottles, some regions
interpret the sizes differently (for example, there are 6 standard bottles of
Bordeaux in a Jeroboam, but only 4 bottles of champagne). Plus, some sizes are
only used in certain regions.
Decoding the ancient names
- Jeroboam: became King of
Israel during the traditional year of Rome's founding (753 BC) and as the Greeks
were emerging from the Dark Age that separated Homer from the Parthenon.
- Rehoboam: grandson of David (slayer of Goliath) and an king of ancient Israel
and later of the Kingdom of Judah, after the 10 northern tribes of Israel
rebelled and created the independent Kingdom of Israel.
- Methuselah: an ancient
patriarch who, according to the Old Testament, lived to be 969—so his name is
synonymous with great age.
- Shalmaneser I: alternatively spelled Salmanazar; an
Assyrian monarch who reigned around 1250 BC.
- Balthazar: meaning 'King of
Treasures', the traditional name of one of the three wise men. Modern scholars
characterise the trio as Zoroastrian priests rather than kings. Legend has it
that the three are buried in a golden shrine at Cologne Cathedral.
- Nebuchadnezzar: originally nabu-kudurri-usur, meaning "Nabu protect the
boundary". He became king of the Chaldean Empire in 604 BC. He was actually the
second Nebuchadnezzar; a less-celebrated namesake preceded him by 500 years.
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