We challenge you to find one bottle of wine that is one liter. Although it is becoming more and more common to find 1.5 liter mega bottles or even gallons of red wine, it is almost impossible to find an exact liter bottle. The reason? A measure taken in the 19th century to make the transportation of wine easier.
The general rule is that wine bottles are 750 ml and there are various theories as to why this happens even today.
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The perfect size for one or two people
There is another theory that indicates that this measure, standardized in 1970, is because it was the recommended amount in the Middle Ages of wine consumption for a single person. Others point out that it is the perfect amount for a dinner for two.
The romantic idea of the origin of the wine bottle
Another theory, and probably the most romantic, is that wine bottles are 750 ml because it is just the capacity of the lungs of a wine blower.
Legend has it that bottles are of that capacity because it is the most a wine blower can do to form a bottle in one go.
A measurement systems problem
There are wine historians who point out that bottles of this capacity respond to the way in which Bordeaux wine was transported in the 19th century.
According to the book “The Wine Bottle, History of a Revolution” (Tallandier, 2013), the French sent barrels full of wine to England. The problem was that both countries had different measurement systems. While in France it was liters, in England it was gallons.
The easiest way to solve this difference was to count how many bottles would come out of a 225-liter barrel, equivalent to 50 gallons. In this way, and to have exact measurements, they managed to extract 300 bottles of 750 ml each without wasting the wine.
The measure to sell by the bottle or by the glass
In seventeenth-century England, the legal difference for selling alcoholic beverages by the bottle or by the shot was established as the equivalent of one fifth of a gallon or 750 ml.
The best thing about this measure is that its bottles were easy to stack and transport without risk of breaking or wasting the wine, as if it could happen with wooden barrels.
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