Large Format Bottles and Ageability

Blog Post

Ridge wines are renowned as some of the most age-worthy in California. We often open bottles from the 1960s and 1970s that remain full of life. As we continue to open older wines from our cellar, it’s no surprise that the larger format variations of our wines age the best. Our first large-format bottle was a 1968 Monte Bello; since then we have produced our most ageable wines in larger format sizes. In 2010, we launched a large-format variation of our Z List membership which provides access to large format offerings of our classic zinfandel-based field blends, Geyserville and Lytton Springs.

Ridge 2019 Monte Bello in 1.5L, 3L, and 750ml bottles.

Why Do Large Formats Age Better?

Head Winemaker and COO, John Olney, provides some insight as to why wines in large format bottles age better, “The oxygen to wine ratio is more favorable with larger volume bottles. That is, the slow oxidation process that occurs over time through the permeable cork happens more slowly in larger formats as equal amounts of oxygen are gradually introduced into a much larger container.” Recalling a recent dinner as part of our Somm Symposium, Olney recounts, “We drank the 1999 Monte Bello from 750ml and the 1996, 1985 and 1978 from 5L. There was consensus that the 1996 tasted younger than the 1999 and many felt the same about the 1985.”

Large Format Sizes

The classic wine bottle is 750 milliliters or 25.4 ounces. The most common larger formats are 1.5 liters and 3 liters. Larger-sized wine bottles are named for historical and biblical figures.

  • 750ml – Standard Bottle
  • 1.5L – Magnum
  • 3L – Jeroboam (more commonly, “Double Magnum”)
  • 6L – Methuselah or Imperial
  • 9L – Salmanazar
  • 12L – Balthazar
  • 15L – Nebuchadnezzar
  • 18L – Melchior, or Solomon

Which Wines Does Ridge Produce in Large Formats?

Throughout our history, Ridge has focused on producing our most age-worthy wines in large format offerings, including:

Opening and Serving Large Formats:

Opening a Methuselah of 1984 Monte Bello as part of a special event at our Weekend Getaway.

Typically well-aged, larger format bottles are best opened using an ah-so wine opener which is well suited to handling delicate and larger-sized corks. To use, work in the two prongs between the cork and bottle. Once all the way in, twist and pull to bring out the cork.

When serving a well-aged, large-format bottle, we recommend simply opening the bottle several hours in advance of serving rather than decanting. These bottles will typically have sediment, so best to keep a close watch as you near the bottom of the bottle. Decanting to remove sediment is an option, however. You’ve made a wise choice in owning and aging a large format bottle, enjoy!

Learn more about different wine openers and join our Z List large format club for access to start collecting large-format Ridge wines today!

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