Pete Stewart and Andy Gemmell
As we approach the party season, it’s a great idea to look at larger format bottles. Magnums (one and a half litres) look impressive, and they’re ideal for thirsty gatherings.
Perhaps more importantly, wine in a larger bottle will age better than the same wine in a standard sized bottle. This is due to the ‘ullage’, which is essentially the space at the top of the bottle. Having a smaller amount of air between the cork and the wine will allow the wine to age more gradually and therefore develop more complexity over time.
So, how big can you go? Sizes run from quarters (187.5ml) through to the magnificent Melchizedek which holds an impressive and challenging thirty litres. Apart from magnums, you’ll really only find larger formats in specialist wine merchants. Double magnums (three litres) are known as Jeroboams in the Champagne and Burgundy regions. But confusingly, in Bordeaux, Jeroboams contain four and a half litres (this size in Champagne and Burgundy is called a Rehoboam).
Prosecco Barocco Magnum (Inverarity One to One, £21.99). The Barocco is a soft, approachable fizz from Veneto made using the tank method of sparkling wine production. You can call it the ‘metodo Italiano’ if you’re feeling more continental. This results in a lighter mousse (posh term for the level of fizziness) in the glass making the Prosecco a very easy to drink aperitif.
Carta Roja Monastrell Grand Reservada Jumilla 2010 Magnum (Sainsbury’s, £11). I promise that’s not a mistake, this excellent wine now comes in a one and a half litre bottle for just £11. Try this with a bowl of hot, spicy chilli.
Woodstock The Stocks 2012 Double Magnum (Inverarity One to One, £175, extremely limited availability). Woodstock’s property in McLaren Vale borders the very famous d’Arenberg estate and their flagship wine might just be the new Dead Arm. A bold statement indeed, but the Stocks is just that good. And, it’s also available in standard sized bottles. Cheers!