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Wine Bottles

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Wine Bottles

I struggled for years to get to grips with this subject, and then I found a mnemonic. There's a clean version and a somewhat sleazy version:

Clean Sleazy Bottle size Bottles Litres
Michael Michael Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer
Jackson, Jackson Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer
Rich Really Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer
Man, Makes Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer
Sings Small Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer
Baaaad Boys Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer
Music Nervous Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer

This is great as far as it goes. There are bigger bottles than this – see below – but this is probably far enough for most quizzes.

You just need to remember where the number of bottles starts going up in fours rather than twos; my suggestion is just to remember that there's no 10–bottle bottle – and that's the first even number that's missing.

But in fact, this is only part of the story. The trouble is that every country has a different system, and all of the major French regions have different systems. The table above is for champagne - but this is invariably the one you'll get asked about, even if the question doesn't actually say so.

If in doubt, my advice is:

When setting questions, always refer explicitly to Champagne
When answering questions, assume that the question setter is referring to champagne (clearly this will not always work – the question setter may be as confused as the next person – but it's the safest option)

Here's the full list for champagne:

Bottles Litres
Piccolo Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer
Demi Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer
Standard Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer
Magnum Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer
Jeroboam Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer
Rehoboam Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer
Methuselah Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer
Salmanazar Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer
Balthazar Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer
Nebuchadnezzar Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer
Melchior Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer
Solomon Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer
Sovereign Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer
Primat or Goliath Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer
Melchizedek or Midas Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer

Note the five largest sizes, which aren't covered by the mnemonic. They are hardly ever asked in quizzes, and it's debatable whether it's worth remembering them - particularly as some of them have two names, there are too many Ms and too many Ss, and the numbers are confusing as well.

I did once hear it asked what was the biggest size of champagne bottle; the answer given was Methuselah.

For comparison, here is the list for the three main French regions:

Champagne Bordeaux Burgundy Litres
Piccolo Click to show or hide the answer n/a n/a Click to show or hide the answer
Chopine n/a Click to show or hide the answer n/a Click to show or hide the answer
Demi Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer
Standard Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer
Magnum Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer
Marie Jean(ne) n/a Click to show or hide the answer n/a Click to show or hide the answer
Double Magnum n/a Click to show or hide the answer n/a Click to show or hide the answer
Jeroboam Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer
Rehoboam Click to show or hide the answer n/a Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer
Imperial n/a Click to show or hide the answer n/a Click to show or hide the answer
Methuselah Click to show or hide the answer n/a Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer
Salmanazar Click to show or hide the answer n/a Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer
Balthazar Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer
Nebuchadnezzar Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer
Melchior Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer
Solomon Click to show or hide the answer n/a n/a Click to show or hide the answer
Sovereign Click to show or hide the answer n/a n/a Click to show or hide the answer
Primat (Goliath) Click to show or hide the answer n/a n/a Click to show or hide the answer
Melchizedek (Midas) Click to show or hide the answer n/a n/a Click to show or hide the answer

You will notice that Burgundy is pretty much the same as Champagne, except that there is no quarter bottle, no Rehoboam, and nothing over 18 litres. Bordeaux, on the other hand, is completely different ...

© Haydn Thompson 2017