Does it really make a difference if you mature sekt in a standard 750ml bottle or in a larger Magnum (1.5 L) or Jeroboam (3 L) bottle?
Restaurants have never been more important than today as a place to gather, talk, and be social. Meeting friends at home for an evening of discussion and fine food and beverage is also a welcome relief.
There are few better ways to mark this ceremony of sharing than by opening a large-format bottle. But beyond the aesthetic joy, there are also unexpected qualitative benefits as well.
Let’s get one thing clear from the start – from a taste perspective, all well-made sekts are delicious in their own manner, regardless of whether they are produced in standard sizes or large formats. And yet there are reasons beyond the impressive look for choosing a magnum. Namely: the sparkling wine matures differently.
What role does oxygen play in the maturation of sparkling wine?
The maturation process for a sparkling wine, which in Germany must spend at least 9 months on the lees in the bottle, depends on many factors. The sekt producer has the opportunity to navigate these choices long before the bottle is ever sold.
1. Cellar temperature
2. Temperature fluctuations
3. Light influence
4. Bottle size and volume of liquid
5. Influence of oxygen and oxidation potential
The bottle size, volume of liquid, and corresponding oxygen influence all interact closely with one another, and define the biggest qualitative difference between a standard and a magnum or double magnum bottle.
While a magnum has double the volume (content) of a 750 ml bottle, the neck of the bottle remains the same… meaning that the proportion of air in that neck is almost identical as found in a standard bottle. In other words: the smaller proportional volume of air in the magnum bottle comes into contact with a much larger volume of sparkling wine, causing the sparkling wine to mature much more slowly. A wine in a demi-bottle will thus reach its peak maturity much more quickly than the same wine in a magnum bottle.
The lower the oxygen influence, the slower the sparkling wine will mature over a longer period of time. As a result, the wine can develop more complex, uniform, and harmonious flavors after a longer period of maturation without seeming “tired.” As such, magnums purchased from the estate can be matured longer and better, as they continue aging slower than standard bottles.
These sparkling wines are also better protected against light, since the walls of large-format bottles are generally a bit thicker than normal ones.
We have put our focus on magnums (1.5 L) and Jeroboams (3 L).
Both of these sizes offer optimal conditions for maturation. We produce using the traditional bottle fermentation method in both magnum and jeroboam bottles. That means that the second alcoholic fermentation takes place directly in the (large-format) bottle. For bottles larger than 3 liters, the second alcohol fermentation must take place in standard bottles. The sparkling wine is then filled into the extra-large format bottles only at the end of the process.
2011 Pinot Kirchenstück Réserve Brut Nature—hand-numbered in the magnum bottles!
Which fill volumes and bottle names are behind the large-format bottles?
- Quart / Piccolo 200 ml
- Demi / Half bottle 370 ml
- Imperial / Standard 750 ml
- Magnum 1.5 liter
- Jeroboam / Double Magnum 3 liter
- Rehoboam 4.5 liter
- Methusalem 6 liter
- Salmanazar 9 liter
- Balthazar 12 liter
- Nebukadnezar 15 liter
- Melchior/ Goliath / Salomon 18 liter
- Souverain / Sovereign 26.25 liter
- Primat 27 liter
- Melchisedech / Midas 30 liter
The best sparkling wines are filled into large-format bottles!
Regardless of how long the bottle is matured, one thing is certain: we winegrowers (generally) put only our best sparkling wines into large-format bottles. This should give some confidence when picking wines or sekts. You’ll rarely be disappointed when the corks fly on a magnum or double magnum to accompany your special moments.
And anyone who intends to lay down a specific vintage for a number of years is also well advised to reach for a magnum. But there’s also plenty of joy in store for those looking to drink now!
Curious? Experiment with these formats yourself.
A complete list of our large-format bottles is available by email (email@example.com) or phone at +49 6243 908070.
A selection of our special format bottles can also be found on our website.