Of course size matters. No one wants a small …. glass of Champagne.
Champagne comes in quite a range of bottle sizes, from the itty bitty Piccolo of 187,5ml (also sometimes referred to as a Quarter or Split), right up to the biggest one of all, the incredibly rare Melchizedek (or Midas) which holds 30lt of Champagne, or the equivalent of 40 standard bottles. And there’s nothing quite as decadent as drinking Champagne from a large-format bottle.
The Piccolo (or quarter or split) holds 187.5ml of bubbly, just enough for one glass. The next size up, the Demi, holds 375ml or half a standard bottle, then the Standard 750ml bottle and next the Magnum which equals 1.5lt or 2 x standard bottles.
The majority of Champagne Houses do not carry out second fermentation in bottles larger than Magnum because of the difficulty in riddling these large bottles and will generally decant the Champagne from Magnum’s into large-format bottles. Interestingly from here on the larger format bottles are all named after Biblical kings or historical figures.
The Jeroboam, the first and smallest of the large-format bottles, holds 3lt or 4 standard bottles. The Jeroboam is named after the First King of the Northern Kingdom of Israel who ruled during 10BC.
Named after the First King of separate Judah who ruled 10BC, the Rehoboam holds 4.5lt, i.e. 6 standard bottles.
Methuselah, named after the oldest ever living person, holds 6 litres or 8 standard bottles and should give you around 64 glasses of champagne.
Named after five Assyrian kings, the most famous being Salmanazar III (858-824 BC), will give you approximately 72 glasses and holds 9 litres or 12 standard bottles.
There’s differing opinions on the origin of the name, but according to the Comité Champagne … “contrary to popular belief, is not named after one of the three Magi. The only reference to Balthazar in the bible is to Balthazar king of Babylon (539 BC) who danced the nights away while under siege by Persian troops – handing victory on a plate to the Persian king, Cyrus”. Either way, the Balthazar is going to give you 12 litres of Champagne (96 glasses), the equivalent of 16 standard bottles.
King of Babylon, also known as Nebuchadnezzar the Great. This bottle holds 15 litres or 20 standard bottles.
Named for a king of Israel and the son of David, the Solomon is quite rare and holds 18 litres (24 standard bottles). The Solomon clocks in at a weight 43 kilos (94.4 pounds) and stands at a height of 85cm.
The Sovereign holds 35 standard bottles and according to research was only ever produced by Champagne Taittinger in 1988 for the launch of the world’s then largest cruise ship, The Sovereign of the Seas.
The Primat is going to give you the equivalent of 36 standard bottles (27 litres), weighs 65 kilos (143 pounds) and stands 1m tall.
And finally, the biggest of them all, the Melchizedek, or often referred to as the Midas. You would indeed be fortunate to drink from this impressive bottle which holds a whopping 30lt of Champagne or 40 standard bottles. Very few Champagne Houses make this size, I’ve only been able to find evidence of Melchizedek’s being produced by Champagne Drappier and Armand de Brignac. And to carry around such a large bottle requires some serious muscle power, it weighs 170 pounds.
The first Midas bottle of Armand de Brignac was sold for $100,000 at the famous nightclub XS in Las Vegas’ Encore casino. If you’ve got some spare cash lying around, you can bag yourself one for a mere £43,500 from Champagne Direct in the UK … no, seriously … here’s the link.
And why does Champagne taste so much better from a large-format bottle? It’s all to do with the pace of ageing of the Champagne. Essentially Champagne ages as the air moves in and out of the cork, mingling with the wine. When you have a large-format Champagne bottle, the surface area for air (the cork) is the same, but you have a larger volume of Champagne, so large-format bottles will age much slower and more gracefully than standard 750ml bottles.
Pop, fizz, clink
The Champagne Chick