Written by: Tim Edison

Updated: January 9, 2024

What is a Split of Wine?

One thing that can make an event extra special is wine. Be it a first dinner date, or simply gifting someone on occasions, wine is one gift that is always loved. But before you go and buy, it is important to admit that, even if the wine is entertaining and social, it is also complex. Though people say great things come in a small package, but with wine, the size and the weight do matter, as it is an indication of the quality of the wine. And talking about quantities, a common question is, what is a split of wine?

Wine is actually a wide and interesting subject, and it is quite popular across the world. Read through the articles why and how the size and the weight of a wine bottle matter and what are the different splits of wine bottles.

Wine for commercial use can be packaged in various size containers; bag in a box, tetra packs and recently there have been discussions for plastics bottles (ouch).

The most traditional way to package wine is in glass bottles, from clear to assorted shades of green, yellow and brown glass. Sizes range from 250ml to 6000ml, with all other sizes in between. Glass bottles allow wines to be properly stored and aged. When you buy quality wines, you should always buy glass bottles, preferably with a natural cork.

Standard Sizes of Wine Bottles

A standard wine bottle stands approximately 11.5 inches tall and holds 750 milliliters of wine. Its diameter is 27/8 to 3 inches, at the base. From the bottom up, its sides are straight, but near the top, at about three-quarters of the height, it has a rounded shoulder. Because of the usual size and shape for a bottle of red wine from a particular region of France, the bottle is often called as a Bordeaux bottle

The liquid in a standard bottle is equal to approximately 25 ounces; one bottle will yield about five glasses of wine if you are pouring five-ounce servings.

This bottle size was adopted from the wine industry in the last couples of centuries and has become the norm for most wines. The 750ml (25.4 fl oz) bottle was designed for convenience as it serves an average of two people; 375ml (12.7 fl oz) per individual equal to two 6.5 fl oz glasses of wine per person. It can also serve four people one glass each 187.5ml (6.3 fl oz).

Ideal to split with a friend or for a small gathering, also great for tasting wines with a small group when you want to taste several wines during the same event. (Serve 4-6 peoples, 6.5 fl oz. or up to 8 people with an average of 3 fl oz each).

Other standard wine bottles include:

  • Piccolo: Is the Italian name for a 187.5ml (6.3 fl oz) size bottle, the equivalent of a quarter of a 750ml standard bottle. Not very common in the markets. However, some dessert and fortified wine can be found in this size. Serve one standard glass (6.3 fl oz) per person or 2 people (dessert and fortified wines should be served an average of 3 fl oz per glass).
  • Demi: Is the French name for a 375ml (12.7 fl oz) or a half of a 750ml standard bottle. This size is very popular with sweet and fortified wines. Some quality wines and sparkling can be found in this size bottle as well. It makes the perfect amount for an individual (solo dining) or to share with someone if you only want a glass each. For dessert and fortified wines, this size can be ideal for 4 people (dessert and fortified wines should serve an average of 3 fl oz per glass).

Irregular Wine Bottle Sizes

  • Split, and Half’s: You can find smaller sizes equal to half of a bottle or even a quarter of a bottle in some wine shop and vineyards. A quarter of a standard bottle is called a "split," it holds about six ounces of wine- it is somewhat a little more than one serving. Usually, you will find splits to be 7 inches tall and 2 inches in diameter. A half, as you might have already guessed, is half the volume of a standard bottle that holds 13 ounces of wine. With a diameter at the base of 2¼", it stands 9½ inches tall
  • Magnum: A bottle that holds two bottles, or about 50 ounces is known as a magnum of wine. The magnum stands 13½ inches tall and will require a special rack in your wine cellar. The magnum base is of 4 inches in diameter. You can discover some exceptional wines and special vintages. Large wines bottles are well known for their aging ability. Great for a larger gathering 6-8 people (one glass each average).
  • Double Magnum: Refers to a 3000ml (3 liters, 101.4 fl oz)) bottle, the equivalent of 4 Standard bottles. This size is very popular with wine collectors and allows wines to age for longer periods of time (sometimes up to 25 years). Because few wines are packaged this way, it creates an attractive collectible item and a great gift idea. Brilliant for celebrations if you want to offer something really special to your guests; serves 8-12 people. (One glass each).
  • Jeroboam: If like to entertain lots of friends, you might want to open a Jeroboam. This seems to be like an elder brother of the magnum. A Jeroboam bottle holds three liters of wine, equal to four standard bottles, or 20 glasses. These sizes are not always available and are also very popular with wine collectors as it allows wines to age for longer, offering the opportunity to discover some older and special vintages. This size is used to age wines up to 30 years and more.

In addition to this, French wines and champagnes have some other sizes of interest, these other sizes are:

  • Rehoboam: 4500ml (4.5 liters or 152.2 fl oz) Typical for Burgundy and Champagne.
  • Imperial: 6000 ml (6 liters or 202.9 fl oz) Traditionally for Bordeaux wines.
  • Methuselah: 6000 ml (6 liters or 202.9 fl oz) Usually for Champagnes and burgundy wines.

The Shapes of Wine Bottles

The shape of the wine bottles has mostly to do with the region they come from than the other functional characteristics. The shape of the bottle has nothing to do with the type of the wine, as per the region and origin the bottles were developed. To make sure the consumers don’t get confused, bottle manufactures agreed to stick to the conventions.

Other than the Bordeaux bottle, one different shape generally used for red wine is the Burgundy bottle. Burgundy bottle has more slanting shoulders and a slightly broader base. It has a diameter of 3½ inches at the base and stands 11½ inches tall.  Chardonnay is made in Burgundy, and that’s the reason you will find this variety in a Burgundy-shaped bottle.

German winemakers use a taller and more slender bottle. The bottles are long necked and have sweet dessert wines like including Riesling and Gewürztraminer. Champagne region bottle is a wider-based, heavier bottle that stands the pressure of the bubbles within.

What's a Punt?

Some of the wine and champagne bottles have an indentation in the bottom, most of us might think it is made to fool the customer about the quantity of the liquid in the bottle.

But that is not the case, this indentation is called a punt, and there are several theories about what its purpose is.

Some of the theories are like: it makes it convenient to ship the bottles in crates as they can be lined up under one another. Another popular theory is the glassmaker indents the bottom of the bottles to avoid any imperfection in the bottles.

The Evolution of Different Wine Bottle Sizes and Shapes

You will find a variety of Wines, from light and small to big, full-bodied and fortified. The same way there is a wide range of variety in the bottles of Wines, they come in different shapes and sizes too. The changes in the shape and size of wines took place in the mid-1700s.

Once it was found that the Cork can work as a seal to the wine bottle, which allowed wine to age as well as keeps it in good form, people started using different shapes and sizes of wine bottles.

People also realized that large bottles looked better and the taste of the wine also improved, this discovery led to further more evolution of wine bottles shapes and sizes. The major reason behind the preferring large bottles was that the large bottles allowed wine to stay longer periods than the standard glass bottles, which improved the taste due to aging.

Large wine bottles are preferred for Bordeaux wine or other wines that are aged for a longer time. The scientific reason behind the rich flavor is the amount of oxygen and sulfur dioxide that stays between the wine and the cork.

Space which creates an air ratio between the bottom of the cork and wine is called ullage. Depending upon the ullage the oxidization of the wine happens, which can lead to premature aging of the wine or slow down the pace of the maturity of the wine. The wine which will have more exposure to the air surface will have faster development of the wine.

This is the reason the smaller bottles develop so quickly as compared to large format bottles. Large format wine bottles have thicker glass, and because of the volume, the wine may not experience any temperature variation leading wine to age more evenly.

So, if you are planning to buy vintage wine that is 40, 50, 60 or sometimes 100 years old, the wine that was stored in a large format bottle will definitely taste better. And the added bonus is, large format wine bottles are quite impressive, and the guests you are feeding are definitely going to compliment you

We have already discussed many benefits of large format bottles, but when you buy them you have to be careful about a few things like- large format bottles need customized corks, because of the unique size, perfect seal and if these things are not considered, the wine may not even age.

Tips for Selecting the Right Bottle When You’re In a Hurry

Selecting wine can be hard without the proper know-how. In fact, choosing a bottle can be more challenging regardless of where you are, especially when you have to make a quick decision. Here are a few tips to help you to choose the correct glass or bottle of wine, or as a server, to help your clients choose.

When selecting a bottle in a shop, you spend time perusing the bottle labels, but what if you don’t have that opportunity someday. Here are 2 tips that can help you select the appropriate one when you really don’t have that much time to select from a wide range.

Remember, that the vintage of the bottle refers to the year the wine was bottled in and it does not always imply that an older wine is an amended choice.

Another tip to implement when choosing wine on a local's menu. Look for bottles that are described as "full-bodied," "medium bodied," or "light bodied." This indicates the level of alcohol content that the wine comprises. Alcohol is measured in percent of alcohol by volume, with full-bodied wines with over 12.5% alcohol by quantity. 

Lighter wines, or pale bodied wines, will contain as small as 7.5% to 10.5% alcohol by quantity. If you are the driver, get a note of this measurement when deciding. Follow these quick steps, and you will be on the right path in choosing a bottle that will complement your meal and fulfill your drinking preference.

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About the Author Tim Edison

Tim started Wine Turtle way back in 2015.
These days he contributes to Wine Turtle (and other renowned wine publications) while continuing his wine education.
Tim's wine of the month is the Coates & Seely Reserve Brut NV (from Hampshire, England).

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