How big is a bottle?
The answer to this simple question from an E-mail correspondent is not as simple as it seems, because it depends on variables. How big is a bottle? How big is a glass? It's a fact worth knowing, especially if you're planning a party.
For many years, the "fifth" bottle was standard for wine and liquor in the United States, so-called because it was one-fifth of a gallon. According to legend, this size was considered just right for an individual to consume with a meal. Those may have been immoderate times, but everyday wines in those days were relatively low in alcohol.
In the 1970s, U.S. liquor regulations went metric, substituting the now-standard 750 milliliter bottle for the old "fifth," an almost imperceptible shrinkage in size from 25.6 to 25.37 ounces.
Either way, a standard bottle provides just about five glasses if you put 5 ounces (150 ml) in a glass, or four glasses if you generously splash a little over 6 ounces (about 180 ml) in each. Since good wine deserves plenty of room for swirling and sniffing, most wine lovers take five glasses out of a bottle at home; but many restaurants, fearing that consumers will think they're stingy otherwise, pour four glasses per bottle.
All of this, of course, assumes that you're using a standard bottle and not a hefty magnum, double magnum or even a hulking Nebuchadnezzar. For more information on these rare oversize bottles and their biblical names, check our Wine Lovers' Questionary, http://wineloverspage.com/questionary/, and click "Big bottles: what are their names?" in the A to Z list.
Tuesday, June 5, 2001