Why It’s Best to Order a Jeroboam in Bordeaux

Wine can be a confusingly wonderful, not to mention wonderfully confusing, topic as we deal with phrases that have no real meaning, geographic regions that may or nay not have official boundaries, and no shortage of opinions about the best types of food to pair with specific types of wine.

The confusion even extends to the size of wine bottles, which one might expect to be a topic defined by clarity considering we’re dealing with precise measurements.

But it’s not the measurements that cause the confusion; rather, it’s how the language is not entirely reined in, at least in certain cases.

Take the bottle size known as the Rehoboam, as an example. As you can see from our “cheat sheet” below, a Rehoboam will hold 4.5 liters of wine, the equivalent of six standard-size (750-ml.) bottles.

But wait. In France’s Bordeaux appellation, that very same sized bottle is known not as a Rehoboam, but rather as a Jeroboam.

It gets even more confusing if you order a Jeroboam of wine in Champagne or Burgundy. There, the Jeroboam bottles hold only 3 liters of wine, the equivalent of four standard-size bottles.

Got that? If you’re as confused as we are, here’s that aforementioned “cheat sheet” to help you keep it all straight…

WINE BOTTLE SIZES

  • Bottle (standard size) — 750-ml.
  • Split — 187-ml.
  • Half-bottle — 375-ml.
  • Magnum — 1.5 liters (two bottles)
  • Marie-Jeanne (Champagne) — 2.25 liters (three bottles)
  • Jeroboam (Champagne and Burgundy) — 3 liters (four bottles)
  • Double Magnum (Burgundy and Champagne) — 3 liters (four bottles)
  • Jeroboam (Bordeaux) — 4.5 liters (six bottles)
  • Rehoboam —4.5 liters (six bottles)
  • Imperiale — 6 liters (eight bottles)
  • Methuselah (Burgundy) — 6 liters (eight bottles)
  • Salamanazar — 9 liters (twelve bottles)
  • Balthazar (Champagne) — 12 liters (sixteen bottles)
  • Nebuchadnezzar (Champagne) — 15 liters (twenty bottles)

ONE MORE NOTE…

There also is a 500-ml. bottle size that traditionally has been used for Port, Tokay and other sweet wines. At the turn of the millennium, a handful of wineries began bottling some of their dry table wines in 500-ml. bottles with an eye toward appealing to single-person households, but the practice did not become a trend.

Perhaps that is why it does not have a name.

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Posted in Wine Buzz, Wine FAQ

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