Bouteilles en cave

The Champagne bottle

Bottle formats for all uses and all occasions

Champagne bottles come in all shapes and sizes. There’s a format to suit every occasion, from small gatherings to lavish parties. The conveniently-sized "half-bottle" is perfect for taking on a picnic. The "standard bottle size" is just right when you have friends round or at Christmas. The "magnum" is an ideal gift or if you’re hosting a party. 

Champagne producers have also designed larger bottles, up to eye-popping proportions, especially with life’s most important moments in mind.

The bottle size also has an influence on the way in which the wine it contains will develop: for instance, a magnum provides the wine with superior ageing conditions than a standard bottle.

"The magnum bottle is just right for two gentlemen, especially if one of them isn't drinking"

Winston Churchill

Some of the largest bottles are also extremely heavy! The Solomon, for example, contains the equivalent of 24 bottles, which is 18 litres. It weighs 43kg and measures 85cm x 23cm. The Primat, also known as Goliath, contains the equivalent of 36 bottles, which is 27 litres. It measures 100cm x 26cm and weighs 65kg... It’s best to get a couple of people to help you carry it!

A legendary object that is also very practical!

A Champagne bottle is much more than just a container for holding the wine.

In the past, fermentation used to be carried out in barrels. But because of the cold climate, this stage tended to stop fairly quickly. It would resume again in the spring, generating gas that made the wine "bubble", but which escaped from the barrels. So the effervescence achieved varied a lot in those days. 

In the late 17th century, as Champagne makers sought ways to better store and transport their wines, they decided to bottle them. They immediately noticed a marked increase in bubbles, which even appeared once the Champagne was in a glass. This new method was an instant hit with consumers! 

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Bottles of Champagne
Tirage en Champagne

Champagne culture

No Champagne bottle, no Champagne! 

The bottle has been designed to be a working tool in its own right. It forms an integral part of the Champagne production process: the famous Méthode Champenoise perfected over the centuries. The juice extracted from the grapes in the presses, then transferred to the wine-making tanks, is bottled next: this is when it becomes sparkling. This stage is called the "prise de mousse", literally when the fizz is captured. So inside the bottle is where the magic really happens and the wine becomes Champagne!

How Champagne is made

However, in the 18th century, controlling the effervescence was still a very hit-and-miss affair: lots of bottles broke, leading to considerable losses. People came to believe that this wine was the wine of the devil! Over time, realisation dawned that the bottle breakages were caused by excessive pressure in the bottle. Bottles made from thicker glass were therefore necessary, which could withstand such high pressure. Today’s Champagne bottles have been designed to withstand a pressure of 20 bar, which is three times the natural pressure of Champagne.

Improvements have also been made to the corking system over time: the wooden toggles ("broquelets") initially used to plug the bottles were gradually replaced with cork stoppers, thus preventing losses of pressure or wine.