The mysterious magnum. These large bottles are often undiscovered treasures for wine drinkers. But there’s so much to love about magnums – beyond that they hold 1.5L of wine, which is double that of a standard bottle!
First, a history lesson. If not for the 18th century, we’d have no lightbulbs, no telephones and no sewing machines. And, we’d have no magnum bottles either. The magnum was created in the 1700s for special wines because winemakers found the larger bottles aged the wine so much more gracefully. Why? As oxygen comes into contact with wine, it oxidizes. Because a magnum holds the same amount of air as a standard bottle, there is less air exposure to the wine and it ages much more slowly.
Even those who are familiar with magnum wines may be surprised to know the bottles increase all the way up to the 15L Nebuchadnezzar and the 18L Melchior! Any bottles larger than the 3L double magnums are exceptionally rare and even more impressive when displayed on the dinner table for guests to enjoy.
Still not convinced? Here are five reasons to add magnums to your wine collection:
- Large bottles are more often handled by hand. If you’re looking for a bottle of wine made with intentional care, look for a magnum.
- They hold the very best wine produced by a winery. They are expensive to produce, so wineries will typically produce a small number of bottles from their very best, unique and collection-worthy wines.
- You get more of your favorite varietal in one bottle. In the Dundee Hills, you can find magnums of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, sparkling wine and rosé.
- Because larger bottles are produced with a thicker glass, they are much less susceptible to fluctuations of temperature, which can help your wine age more successfully.
- They’re the perfect wine for a crowd when you want everyone to enjoy the same bottle. A standard bottle holds five glasses. A magnum holds ten. A double magnum can serve your whole neighborhood!
A few of our Dundee Hills winemakers were eager to share the reasons they love magnums:
- “Magnums are great because they slow everything down and integrate more gently with time. Much more potential for ageability and just more fun to open with a group of friends.“ – Nate Klostermann, winemaker at Argyle Winery
- “There is something inherently celebratory when a magnum is opened, it is a perfect size for a party of 4 and they age exceptionally well.” – Scott Flora, winemaker at Native Flora
- “I remember hearing from a Burgundian many years ago that he put their whole vintage in magnums. When I asked why, he said the wine needed a lot of time to come around (similar to the 2007 vintage in the Dundee Hills) and that he might as well put it in a container that would better match the long term development trajectory. It makes me think that maybe they should have done the opposite: A vintage that is great out of the gate (like the 2014/2015 vintages here) should go into mags since that will slow down its development. But, they’ve been doing this longer than us so maybe we should follow their plan!” – Alex Sokol Blosser, winemaker at Sokol Blosser Wines
- “Magnums are, simply put, a party in a bottle. Who doesn’t love that? Their sheer size implies sharing with friends and family- which is the highest purpose of any wine.” – Jesse Lange, winemaker at Lange Estate Winery
- “After the last year of transition from 2020 to 2021 there will be a lot to celebrate and magnums will be a highlight of those events. The 2018 Dundee Cuvee from Dobbes Family Estate represents our last vintage with the former Vista Hills Vineyard, already a library wine in our program, so the magnums are great for collectors looking to celebrate!” Andy McVay, Winemaker, Dobbes Family Estate
The next time you’re wine tasting in the Dundee Hills and see a magnum available, take a moment to ask about the vintage and why it’s exceptional in the eyes of the winemaker. Every magnum has a story behind it – especially those grown in our region! We have a number of magnums available from our members for you to purchase and enjoy through our Marketplace, our tasting rooms and our members’ websites. Cheers!
Resources To Explore:
- Forbes: Why Magnum Wine Bottles Are Perfect For The Holidays
- Fatcork: Fun Facts About Magnums
- Wine Folly: Guide to Wine Bottle Sizes