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Large-Format Wine Bottles: For the savvy wine collector

Apart from their impressive appearance and dynamic presence, large format wine bottles offer many benefits, both to the wine inside and to the person enjoying them.  Large format bottles are the perfect complement to any large gathering or special occasion.   They are a wonderful choice when looking for a bottle to commemorate major events — a wedding, birthday or anniversary – as they are able to stand up to the test of time for you to enjoy many years into the future.  Adding a few large format bottles to your collection will demonstrate your wine expertise to your friends and family — these rare trophies make for a great conversation starter or statement piece!

Enhanced aging potential
In comparison to a typical 750mL wine bottle, a large format bottle has less oxygen trapped inside relative to the volume of wine – think of this in terms of the ratio of air to liquid.  The reduced oxygen by volume allows the wine to oxidize more slowly and lengthens the aging process.  This strengthens the overall stability of the wine and positively affects aroma and flavor development as the wine ages. Given proper cellaring conditions, a large format bottle can yield wine that ages longer and tends to be more robust.

Large format wine bottles tend to be more resistant to temperature fluctuations as well.  The larger volume of liquid in the bottle takes longer to warm or cool and is therefore more resistant to temperature changes that could potentially damage a smaller bottle of wine. The thicker glass of a large format bottle also offers better UV protection for the wine.  Both of these factors can be a great benefit if you have less than ideal cellar conditions.  

Guide to large format sizes
At Stonestreet Estate Vineyards, we bottle many of our single vineyard wines in magnum, 3 Liter and 6 Liter sizes.  However, these are not the only sized bottles that can be found.  Large format wine bottles can range from 1.5 Liter all the way up to 30 Liter bottles!  Beyond the common magnum, each large format bottle size has been given a fanciful name – all named after biblical kings and historical figures.  Here is your guide to large format wine bottle sizes: 

Opening a large format bottle
Opening a large format bottle may be a daunting task – especially for 3 Liter bottles or larger. The corks tend to be much wider in diameter but are typically the same length as a standard cork.  Here are a couple tips to help you impress your friends and family during your next gathering:

  • For bottles with a wax seal, you will want to cut off the top portion of wax to expose the cork.  This is best done with a serrated knife.  You will want to cut through the wax just under the collar of the wine bottle.  Start with a shallow cut all the way around as a guide, then cut through the wax until you get to the glass.  Peel the wax away.  Note, if you are opening an older wine that you wish to decant, remove the entire wax seal so you can see into the neck of the bottle while pouring – click here to read tips for proper decanting techniques.
  • To remove the cork, we recommend using an Ah-So cork remover – these work well with the wider diameter cork. Insert the longer prong of the Ah-So first, in between the cork and the inside edge of the bottle. Rock the Ah-So back and forth until it is all the way inserted into the bottle.  Gently twist the Ah-So upwards and as you do the cork should lift out with it.  When the cork is about halfway out, stop and rock the Ah-So down again.  Slowly twist the cork upwards the remainder of the way.
  • If using a regular corkscrew, be certain you have a firm grip on the cork with the corkscrew before you begin to pull.  Very gently, pull the cork straight upwards, making sure the cork is moving and sliding free from the glass.  If the center of the cork starts to break away from the rest, stop and try to insert the corkscrew further in. Once the cork is moving, you should have no trouble.  Some large bottles may require using 2 corkscrews.

 

To inquire about large format versions of your favorite Stonestreet wines, contact our team at 707-857-1524 or wineclub@stonestreetwines.com.

 

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