Does the size of the bottle affect the taste of a wine?

By / Magazine / November 4th, 2017 / 8

When it comes to bottles, size does matter, unless you count yourself in the majority of wine buyers who tuck into their purchase within 48 hours of its arrival home. To most of you, cellaring a wine is so 17th century. You buy it for a certain occasion (which could be as pedestrian as “it’s Monday”), and liquid hits glass sooner than later.

If you cracked open a variety of bottles sizes, all containing the same wine from the same vintage, and give them a swirl, you shouldn’t discern any difference in personality.

The one caveat is age. My previous paragraph of brilliance proves itself true only with wines that haven’t been around too long, because time and wine bottle size don’t always get along so well.

That’s the reason why the current 750 ml package is the dominant design on store shelves. While its volume is just about right for sharing between two people, it also allows the wine to mature at a near-perfect rate.

I’m talking volume versus air here, folks. Over time, air trapped in the bottle starts to do its not-so-dirty work on a wine, eventually deteriorating full-bodied vino to a point where fruit, acid and (in reds) tannins are as harmonious as a Beach Boys greatest hits album.

A smaller and larger bottle each has proportionately about the same amount of air inside it as its 750 ml brethren; so it makes sense that the weenier the receptacle, the quicker its cargo will age, and vice versa for a jumbo bottle.

So yes, if you’re a collector, your bottle of choice can dictate how your wine will taste in the long run. It’s never been a problem for me; I’m way more Mr 48 hours.


Fresh, funny and down-to-earth, Peter Rockwell is the everyman's wine writer. Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia he's worked in the liquor industry for over 30 years and has written about wine, spirits & beer since graduating from the School of Journalism at the University of King's College in 1986. His reviews and feature articles have been published in Tidings, Vines, Occasions, Where and on to name a few; he has been a weekly on-air wine feature columnist for both CBC-TV and Global Television and his wine column 'Liquid Assets' appeared weekly in two of Nova Scotia's daily newspapers, 'The Halifax Daily News' and 'The Cape Breton Post.' Today Peter's irreverent answer man column 'Bon Vivant' appears each month in Tidings Magazine and his weekly 'Liquid Assets' column is published across Canada in editions of the METRO newspaper. When not drinking at home, and at work, Peter travels the globe looking for something to fill his glass and put into words.

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