Imagine the scene. Decorations are up. Menus decided. Glassware polished. Table laid with all your best linens, cutlery and crockery. So how will you be filling those glasses to celebrate finally getting together with cherished family and friends after a long time apart? A magnum may just do the trick...

Larger gatherings and celebrations call for something special – and with enough volume to satisfy the crowd. Large-format bottles are impressive. They always make an entrance and they definitely signal celebration. From the comparatively modest magnum (1.5l, two standard bottles) to the frankly massive melchizedek (try to imagine the arm power required to pour the equivalent of 40 standard bottles), bigger bottles are made for sharing, especially at this time of year.

But why are magnums favoured by winemakers? There’s science behind the choice. Stand a standard bottle and a magnum upright and you’ll see roughly the same amount of space between the wine and the cork (that's called the ullage). Over time, a small amount of oxygen passes through the cork and contributes to the way the wine ages, develops and tastes. The magnum’s larger volume means that twice the amount of wine is exposed to the same amount of oxygen. The simple maths? A slower ageing process that keeps wines bottled in magnums fresher for longer. This also makes them ideal candidates for further cellar ageing at home if you choose to wait. 

Aside from the science, it is of course the magic and the theatre that larger format bottles bring that makes them ideal for sharing at Christmastime. And they’re not just for the ceremonial raising of glasses. We love our sparkling wines on their own, but they all pair beautifully with food too. Plus they go a long way – and make a thoughtful gift. What better expression of generosity towards family and friends? Magnums make events more memorable and we have both sparkling and still wine magnums to cater for any occasion. 

In a certain other part of the world where sparkling wine is also made, bottle size extends well beyond magnums. In case it crops up in your Christmas quiz, here’s the list to show you’re in the know.

Jeroboam: 4 bottles

Methuselah: 8 bottles

Salmanazar: 12 bottles

Balthazar: 16 bottles

Nebuchadnezzar: 20 bottles

Solomon: 24 bottles

Primat: 36 bottles

Melchizedek: 40 bottles

At Gusbourne, our magnums are limited edition wines, making them even more special to share. On release now are our Blanc de Blancs 2013 and our Brut Reserve 2016, plus for the first time our celebrated still wines Pinot Noir 2019, Pinot Noir Rosé 2020 and Chardonnay Guinevere 2019 are also available in magnum format.


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