Large Formats

Cos d'Estournel Melchiors

Large Format Specialists

AWC Fine Wine is the international market leader in supplying large formats. The demand for these magnificent bottles is always increasing and AWC regularly supplies them to leading hotels, restaurants, casinos, and passionate individuals around the world.

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Larger wine bottles are inherently more impressive for two, specific reasons. Firstly, they are simply fun to serve and pour from, astounding any audience with their spectacular size in the process. Secondly, it is a proven fact that wines bottled in large formats have the capacity to develop more slowly, which therefore increases the likelihood of them having longer cellar lives. As a result of this gradual, prolonged maturation, the wine will often develop greater nuance and more complex flavours than wines aged in standard sized bottles.

Search wines by bottle format »The range of available large formats includes all sizes of bottle, from Magnums (150cl/1.5L) to Melchiors (1800cl/18L), and ranges from the top, Grand Cru estates to more modest wines suitable for banquets and big entertaining events.

AWC's Purchasing Team members are experts in sourcing large formats. Looking for something special? Contact them on +44 (0) 20 3219 5588 or at info@awcfinewine.com.

Decanting cradle with 1945 Mouton Rothschild

Serving wine from larger formats

Serving fine wines from large formats will, without a doubt, bring a sense of grandeur to any occasion. However, it is also important to be fully prepared for the task at hand as, the bigger the bottle, the greater the physical strength needed to pour it.

To assist with this procedure, AWC Fine Wine provides a range of Grand Decanting Cradles to ensure that maximal enjoyment is derived from every Magnum or Melchior, with minimal serving hassle.

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Masseto

Why are bigger bottles better?

When bottling wine, a small amount of air is captured inside each bottle. This trapped air, together with further, tiny quantities that enter through or around the cork, ensures that the wine is able to ‘breathe’. This small amount of oxygen reacts with the wine and allows it to develop secondary and tertiary aromas and flavours during the ageing process. However, it is equally important that the wine does not come into contact with too much air, as this can result in over oxidisation, which is detrimental.

Additionally, larger bottles tend to have similar neck and cork sizes to those of smaller bottles. Therefore, in large formats, there is proportionately less air inside compared to the volume of wine. This disparity can be seen with one of the largest bottle formats, an 1800cl/18L Melchior, in which, comparatively, the air exposure can be 20 times less than it is in a regular, 75cl bottle. The result is a slower process of ageing that allows the wine to mature to perfection yet still remain in excellent condition for a longer time period.

Chateau d'Yquem Large Format

How big are large format bottles?

That’s not as simple as it might at first seem. While the Melchior always contains the equivalent of 24 standard bottles, some regions interpret the sizes differently (for example, there are 6 standard bottles of Bordeaux in a Jeroboam, but only 4 bottles of champagne). Plus, some sizes are only used in certain regions.

Bottle Champagne Bordeaux Burgundy / Rhône
Magnum 2 (150cl) 2 (150cl) 2 (150cl)
Marie-Jeanne N/A 3 (225cl) N/A
Double Magnum N/A 4 (300cl) N/A
Jeroboam 4 (300cl) 6 (450cl) 4 (300cl)
Rehoboam 6 (450cl) N/A 6 (450cl)
Imperial N/A 8 (600cl) N/A
Methuselah 8 (600cl) N/A 8 (600cl)
Salmanazar 12 (900cl) N/A 12 (900cl)
Balthazar 16 (12L) 16 (12L) 16 (12L)
Nebuchadnezzar 20 (15L) 20 (15L) 20 (15L)
Melchior 24 (18L) 24 (18L) 24 (18L)

Decoding the ancient names

Three Melchiors
  • Jeroboam: became King of Israel during the traditional year of Rome's founding (753 BC) and as the Greeks were emerging from the Dark Age that separated Homer from the Parthenon.
  • Rehoboam: grandson of David (slayer of Goliath) and an king of ancient Israel and later of the Kingdom of Judah, after the 10 northern tribes of Israel rebelled and created the independent Kingdom of Israel.
  • Methuselah: an ancient patriarch who, according to the Old Testament, lived to be 969 — so his name is synonymous with great age.
  • Salmanazar I: alternatively spelled Shalmaneser; an Assyrian monarch who reigned around 1250 BC.
  • Balthazar: meaning 'King of Treasures', the traditional name of one of the three wise men. Modern scholars characterise the trio as Zoroastrian priests rather than kings. Legend has it that the three are buried in a golden shrine at Cologne Cathedral.
  • Nebuchadnezzar: originally nabu-kudurri-usur, meaning "Nabu protect the boundary". He became king of the Chaldean Empire in 604 BC. He was actually the second Nebuchadnezzar; a less-celebrated namesake preceded him by 500 years.