An Ode to the large format - written by Will Lennox of Five Way Cellars
Humans have long been preoccupied with size. It is a universal frame by which all things are judged. Big, small, wide or narrow, there are no shortages of descriptors for size. Of course, I’m talking about wine bottles!
When it comes to choosing your beverage of choice, why limit yourself to the standard 750 millilitre bottle? Magnums and larger have long been indicators of grandeur and spectacle no matter the occasion they are presented. From the voluptuous curves of the Burgundy shaped bottle, its suppleness commanding the utmost grace. To Bordeaux bottles, with their taut shoulders and forceful stature—architypes of longevity. Or Riesling, wafer thin, its baroque grandeur soaring gracefully above the table. These larger bottles are filled with far more personality and charm than their 750 millilitre siblings.
And now, As the Christmas season hits full swing, new opportunities for long lunches, raucous dinners, and even the most simple of get-togethers become all the more frequent. This is the perfect time to rid yourself of the limitations of bottle size and encourage the togetherness and shared imbibing experience that larger formats provide.
Perhaps it is my simple boredom of the standard wine bottle size: their shape blends in with all matter of mundane table items. There is little excitement in the ordinary. The Bauhaus design tenet of ‘form follows function’ invariably creeps into all manners of our daily lives. The form of the larger bottle was undoubtedly meant to be consumed in a larger, more enthusiastic group.
Consider too, the simple spectacle of a striking magnum adorning your table or standing watch over the meal from the corner of the room. There are so many benefits gained from simply sizing up that are only limited by your imagination.
Beyond the theatrical benefits of increasing your bottle size, magnums offer increased longevity of their contents due to the lower level of oxygen-to-wine-ratio in the bottle, this only getting more beneficial the larger you go! Magnums are able to preserve wine much longer and if you are a follower of any wine critic, it is often from consummation from magnum that they reserve their most fervent reviews after many years in the cellar.
Context is everything when it comes to the consumption of wine: not every occasion demands 1.5 litres or more of our favourite beverage. The private luxury of a half-bottle, or popping the cork back into a half drunk bottle are both no less valid methods of drinking. But “moderation is a fatal thing,” said Oscar Wilde, “nothing succeeds like excess”. This is the time of the year where we are able to see each other again en masse and relish in the group environment. It has never been a better time for excess. So size up, choose more, find your group, and get to it! Santé! - Will Lennox, FWC.
Pictured: Vietti Barolo Castiglione 2017 5 Litre, next to a 750ml bottle of the same wine. Both products are current available here.