There’s nothing that sets the celebratory mood at the holiday dinner table better than a magnum of wine. Containing 1.5 liters or about 12 glasses of wine, the impressive magnum is twice the size of a regular bottle. The word “magnum” is derived from the Latin, magnus, meaning greater or large. For premium wines, expect to pay a little more than twice the price of a standard bottle.
There are lots of advantages to them, and here are just a few:
- The ratio of wine to air is greater in a magnum. This makes it the best format for aging wine since it ages more slowly in one, which is preferable.
- Wine tastes better in magnum format (see No. 1), particularly Champagne.
- Guests and dining companions are excited by the impressive size of a magnum and this inevitably leads to an air of festivity.
- Since fewer magnums are made, they exude a sense of rarity.
- A magnum makes a stunning gift.
More rare are wine formats larger than the magnum. These are popular for parties, weddings, and special occasions. They include the double magnum (3 liters); and the jeroboam (3 liters of Burgundy or sparkling wine). Most rare are the methusalem (6 liters); the salmanazar (9 liters or a case of wine); the nebuchadnezzar (15 liters); the melchoir (18 liters or 2 cases of wine); and the primat (27 liters or 3 cases of sparkling wine).
Hi-Time Wine Cellars in Costa Mesa carries magnums, or can order them for you, but your best bet for these larger formats is to go directly to the winery. Either phone or visit their tasting rooms. Sometimes they’re sold at wine auctions. Sherry-Lehmann Wine & Spirits in New York City offers a number of wines in large formats in their Holiday Catalog including Veuve-Cliquot Champagne in magnum, jeroboam, methusalem, salmanazar, balthazar, and nebuchadnezzar.