By Tiffany Vernon, Copywriter
Magnums and larger format bottles of wine are a perfect way to celebrate during the festive season. Offering you more wine to enjoy whilst looking impressive on a table are just a couple of the more obvious reasons to go big this Christmas. Still, in case you need a little more persuasion, I have come up with seven different reasons to buy magnums, along with some of my top recommendations for Christmas 2023.
Perhaps the biggest reason (no pun intended) for buying these bottles is their size. Magnums are the equivalent of two standard-sized bottles, meaning they are perfect for sharing around a table to keep thirsty guests happy. Better still, with everyone enjoying wine from the same bottle, there is less risk of bottle variation.
I once met a guy who wanted to buy his own Champagne for his wedding reception rather than ordering what the venue could offer him. The downside of that plan was the hefty corkage he needed to pay per bottle. However, he found a loophole. Purchasing a Methuselah of Champagne (a whopping 6 litres), he only had to pay corkage for one bottle but was able to keep the bubbles flowing for his celebrations! Suffice to say, I think venues have caught onto stating bottle sizes in their T&Cs now, but it shows there is value to be had in upsizing your bottles, especially for a momentous occasion.
Let’s face it: a large bottle looks impressive on a dining table. For example, have you ever seen a magnum of Riesling? The elongated flute-shaped bottle makes for a dramatic centrepiece! Of course, magnums of claret will look just as fabulous and will taste exceptional beside a traditional roast.
If you’re hosting this year, imagine the faces of your guests as they enter the room to discover magnums upon the table, just begging to be opened and shared. They will know they have come to the right place for their Christmas… Just be warned, though, that the wine might steal the show. Check out our full Magnum Range, or see my recommendations below.
For all you wine lovers and self-certified wine geeks, this is possibly the best reason for drinking out of magnum bottles: the ageing potential of the wine inside is much greater.
As many of you will already know, a cork seal is not completely airtight and will allow some slow but subtle oxygen interaction with the wine due to its porous nature. A bottle, of course, is never quite filled right to the top, meaning there is already a small amount of oxygen at play with the wine. This is why wine evolves over time and can develop new flavours or characteristics.
So, when you take into consideration that a magnum uses the same sized cork and leaves a similar-sized gap between the wine and the seal as a standard bottle, there is twice the amount of wine interacting with the same quantity of oxygen. This results in the ageing process and development of the wine in bottle slowing down considerably. The consequential wine evolves a softness yet retains its fresh and vibrant fruit character for longer.
This means that if you don’t want to drink your wine straight away (or you’re purchasing it as a gift), you can stash the magnum away for a future Christmas celebration.
Magnums have a rarity factor to them. As it is more difficult to source and bottle this size, many winemakers don’t produce larger formats, making magnums extra special.
For this reason, they can make brilliantly unique gifts. Not only does your recipient gain a generous amount of wine, but they also get to enjoy something with limited availability. For more gift inspiration, see our Christmas Gifts selection.
If you’re not hosting this year, but you wish to bring something to the party – you know what I’m going to suggest here – a magnum is a great offering.
When you are loading the car until it’s brimming with presents or you’re squeezing your seasonal necessities into a suitcase for the journey ahead, you can rest assured that magnums travel pretty well.
Due to their thicker glass (one of the reasons these large bottles are harder to source), magnums are more durable than your standard bottles. Whilst I’m not suggesting you run a science test and begin dropping your magnum from a great height (I’m pretty confident it will still smash…), it is less likely to suffer when travelling some distance.
Perhaps it’s a little bit of a silly reason, but sticking to magnums this year means less recycling to put out! In a world where we are all trying to reduce our waste, Christmas can be particularly tricky in trying to avoid excess rubbish. But consider this: bigger bottles mean fewer used and therefore less room taken up in your recycling bin (and fewer trips away from the sofa).
Maybe that is warped logic or just a really good excuse to justify my magnum purchases…
Finally, a way of saying you’re a wine lover without saying you’re a wine lover – decorating your house with empty magnums!
My home includes Riesling magnum bottles as ‘bookends’ for my shelves, along with providing a useful base for stringing up fairy lights for the season. I also have a treasured (sadly empty) Champagne Methuselah as a handy doorstop – I must add, not the same one from the chap’s wedding in Reason 1.
Each time I look at these bottles, they remind me of great occasions with family and friends, not to mention bringing back memories of some amazing wines consumed.
For more creative ideas on how to reuse your bottles, read our Upcycling with C&B blog.
Magnums to enjoy this Christmas:
So now that I have hopefully persuaded you of all the reasons why you should consider larger bottles for your Christmas celebrations, here is a selection of my top magnums for your festive period.
First up is a Prosecco because Christmas wouldn’t be the same without a touch of sparkle. My choice comes from Le Colture, run by the Ruggeri family since the 1500s; they specialise in crafting the highest-quality sparkling wines. Their Prosecco Pianer is the ‘premier cru’ style from their range, made from Glera grapes grown in Valdobbiadene – the epicentre of the most prestigious Prosecco vineyards. It has all the delicious fruit you might expect: green apples, pears and citrus fruit, coupled with soft white flowers and a creamy mousse.
I’ve already mentioned the impressive Riesling magnums with their tall stature, but did I also mention how tasty the wine is?! The Estate Riesling Kabinett from Dr H Thanisch offers a zesty palate of green apple, preserved lemons and limes offset by a mineral vein and honeyed undertones. Not only has the Thanisch estate been run by the same family for 12 generations, but the last five generations have all been female-led – rare to find in the wine world and something to be celebrated!
If you’re planning to indulge in fish and seafood for Christmas, I would suggest grabbing yourself a magnum (or two) of Muscadet Sèvre et Maine, Cru Monnières. Delivering opulent fruit flavours of nectarines, guava and a splash of citrus, complemented by nutty nuances, salinity and mineral layers. Made by the young and very talented winemaker Julien Braud, he uses fruit from low-yielding vines combined with extensive lees ageing to craft this elegant and textured white.
If you’re looking for red wine for the table, keep it classic with claret. You can never go wrong with Château Barrail du Blanc Grand Cru St-Émilion – a wine I am continuously recommended by my colleagues. It’s a fabulous Merlot-dominant red from one of the world’s most renowned producers at a very affordable price. Plummy notes are entwined with a red and black fruit medley layered with spices and tobacco hints. It’s affectionately nicknamed ‘Barry White’ by the C&B team, although I’m yet to ask why…
If you have a penchant for Pinot Noir, try Moulin-à-Vent Coeur de Terroir from Beaujolais superstars Domaine Labruyère. Here, the estate focusses on making wines true to their surrounding terroir and employs techniques more commonly associated with the herald black grape of Burgundy: Pinot Noir. This particular wine encompasses five of the Labruyère family’s unique vineyard plots from the Moulin-à-Vent appellation to produce a silky red with beautifully pure red berry compote backed by a dark, mineral-etched frame.
Finally, if you’re seeking a showstopper, then I would highly recommend Brunello di Montalcino from Ridolfi. Another estate with an impressive winemaking history which is combined with ancient Tuscan lineage. Made from 100% Sangiovese (called Brunello in this area of Italy), this is bursting with ripe cherry and hedgerow berries combined with elegant savoury notes of tobacco and Christmas spices. A wine that combines greatly concentrated fruit with nuanced complexity, this grows more expressive as the night draws on.
For more festive inspiration and shopping, visit our Christmas Hub.