Usually you only see magnums of wine at special occasions: Someone sabers one on New Year’s Eve, or someone orders one at a swanky club with bottle service. But magnums don’t just look good in photographs. There are clear, scientific reasons why they’re better formats for storing and serving wine.
First, wine ages better in a magnum—one and a half liters, or two traditional 750-milliliter bottles—than it does in a bottle. Clément Calleja, the U.S. brand ambassador for Champagne Billecart-Salmon, says that’s because while there’s much more wine in a magnum, the amount of oxygen that gets trapped between the wine and the cork is about the same. Less oxygen means the wine oxidizes about one and a half to two times slower than in a regular bottle, thereby retaining more flavor and nuance. "This actual pace of aging is the best in order to preserve the balance in wine between freshness, acidity and fruit," Calleja explains.
The same conditions make magnums perfect for storing wine; the liquid will be fresher and more youthful for much longer than it would be in a traditional bottle.
With Champagne specifically, magnums also help the wine gain flavor—not just keep it. During the Champagne fermentation process, winemakers add yeast that gives the wine effervescence and personality. In a magnum, the yeast has room to spread out and do more work. The wine has more texture, complexity and nuance—even after it’s bottled, Calleja says.
And then there’s the obvious: Bigger bottles equal more wine to drink and more fun to be had.
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