View Full Version : Whats Wrong with French People?
08-15-2000, 01:42 PM
i have recently come across the following classifactions for champagne bottle size:
Quarter-Bottle--6.3 fluid ounces
Half-Bottle--12.7 fluid ounces
Bottle--25.4 fluid ounces
Magnum--50.8 fluid ounces--2 bottles
Jeroboam--101.6 fluid ounces--4 bottles
Rehoboam--147 fluid ounces--6 bottles
Methuselah--196 fluid ounces--8 bottles
Salmanazar--304.8 fluid ounces--12 bottles
Balthazar--406.4 fluid ounces--16 bottles
Nebuchadnezzar--508 fluid ounces--20 bottles
what gives with these wack-job terms? sounds like the naming sessions came after a few too many jeroboams of brut if u ask me. maybe this has some correlation to other idiosynchrosis of these chain-smoking non-showering jerry lewis-loving folk. anybody have any ideas?
Duck Duck Goose
08-15-2000, 01:52 PM
In a word--tradition.
08-15-2000, 02:01 PM
Amazingly enough, 25.4 ounces is just about exactly 750 mililiters. If you look around in a liquor store, *all* wine is sold in 750 ml bottles. All the other sizes you list relate to this (ie, a magnum is 2 bottles, 1500 ml, 50.8 fluid oz.)
08-15-2000, 02:13 PM
First off- now I *really* want to throw a big party, just so I can call up a beverage supplier and request a "Nebuchadnezzar of champagne, my good man!"
Okay, SWAG here.
Most of the names beyond the term "Magnum" are Biblical in nature (ancient Kings, etc.). Given that wineries (and, by direct extension, the producers of champagne) of medeval times were run by monks, it seems only fitting that they gave Biblical names to various quantities of wine and champagne. More modern wine producers kept with the old names out of A) a sense of tradition and B) an unwillingness to confuse customers ("So you're sending me a Salmanazar of your Merlot, right?" "Yes, sir, 9 liters." "I didn't want 9 liters, I wanted 12 bottles!" "Er...").
As a further note- Magnum seems close to "Magnus" or "Great" (in the large sense), so I'd assume that a Magnum bottle just means "A Really Big Bottle" in the same way that a Magnum pistol means "A Really Big Gun".
08-15-2000, 03:01 PM
John Corrado's explanation does not fully satisfy me. Why would those Biblical names be chosen in particular? Is there any connection between those historical figures and wine (in the Bible?) I would expect to see a bottle called the "Noah" then. As far as I remember, the person usually credited with inventing the method of creating sparkling wine is the benedictine monk Dom Pérignon from the abbaye in Hauvillers (beginning of 18th century). The names for bottles however may very well date from before that, since I've heard those names being used for non-sparkling wines, but probably not as far back as the Middle Ages I would think.
BTW, Encycopædia Britannica (http://www.britannica.com/bcom/eb/article/9/0,5716,22699+1+22351,00.html) has the following on wine bottle names:
Champagne bottles are made in many sizes: the split (equal to 1/4 bottle), the half-bottle, the bottle (0.75 litres), the magnum (equal to two bottles), the jeroboam (equal to four bottles), the methuselah (equal to eight bottles), the salmanazar (equal to 12 bottles), the balthazar (equal to 16 bottles), the nebuchadnezzar (equal to 20 bottles), and the most recent creation, the sovereign (equal to more than 34 bottles). The larger bottles (from the balthazar on up), originally handblown, proved to be so dangerous that they were discontinued until 1986, when a safer method of production was introduced.
08-15-2000, 03:14 PM
I'm sure it's just style. They could have named them after military ranks or classes of angles. Biblical kings has a certain timeless class, and it's independent of country. Those big bottles are impressive -- I've seen them at wineries, and at some of the wine shops here in Boston.
08-15-2000, 03:24 PM
Once again I post while trying to write code, and end up missing the question altogether. I thought the OP was wondering why the sizes themselves weren't logical. I didn't even see the names. Guess working at a wine store in my youth made "Nebuchadnezzar" part of my normal vocabulary.
08-15-2000, 03:25 PM
They could have named them after military ranks or classes of angles
But who would want to buy an "obtuse" of champagne ...
Sorry, I don't usually pick on spelling mistakes, but I couldn't resist. I guess I thought it was ah ... cute!
08-15-2000, 03:38 PM
I've set in a nice store of acutes and a few obtuses. But for the real celebration, I have a case of equilateral.
Darn. "Angels", of course.
08-15-2000, 04:29 PM
"The larger bottles (from the balthazar on up), originally handblown, proved to be so dangerous that they were discontinued...."
That must have been what they shipped soap in, too.
08-16-2000, 12:27 PM
biblical kings u say? well, at least i now kno where those crazy names are from, unfortunetly i still see very little connection. i found some information on champagne here
sez champagne is more or less invented by dom pernignon, bubbles were an accident because of the weather in that part of france blah blah, but most interestingly is that champgne was just another kind of wine for a while. so did wine once use the same units? maybe there a connection there.
anyway, thanks for all your help allready, those nutball french
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