Wine magnums are perfect for sharing — and aging
Large-format bottles like magnums are one of the most exciting ways wine can be experienced.
Holding two standard bottles of wine inside one oversized 1.5-liter bottle, magnums are ideal for sharing between friends, but, just as importantly, for aging. Magnums have the same size neck and cork as a standard 750ml bottle, so as that magnum of wine ages, the same amount of air through the cork comes into contact with double the amount of wine.
To make it simple: Wines age slower in magnum.
This is fantastic for those who like to hold onto special bottles, especially from back vintages. The wine will develop complexity, but not oxidize as quickly.
With that being said, just because it’s in a larger format bottle does not mean it has to be held onto for years. Magnums, whether a current release or an older vintage, are perfect for sharing. Each magnum contains ten standard glasses of wine, so they are great for large groups.
Keep in mind: If serving bubbles, white, or rosé, magnums take up significantly more room in the refrigerator and take longer to cool, so make sure to leave some space and time for these wines to chill appropriately.
Don’t overthink! Just share a drink
It goes without saying that wine is meant to be shared. Pouring a bottle of wine among family and friends is one of my greatest joys in life. Once the wine is in the glass, conversations start and memories are made.
Often, the most challenging part of sharing wine is choosing the perfect bottle to open. This can be a painstakingly difficult decision to make. Will the people you are sharing the bottle with appreciate what you open? Is this the appropriate occasion for this bottle? And how much will everyone want to drink? These questions can be overwhelming, especially if you are also concerned with all the other aspects that go into entertaining.
Try not to get caught up in them. Sharing wine has been a ritual for some 8,000 years! You won’t mess it up.
At the end of the day, it’s all about making memories, so don’t stress over questions like that. Pull the cork, pour a few glasses, and try to relax and enjoy the wine. The people you chose to share it with will appreciate it.
Sommelier Pro Tip
If you are planning on sharing wine with friends, I usually estimate ¾ of a standard bottle of wine per drinking adult.
Hosting a party for eight? Plan on three magnums.
Here are five excellent selections to consider:
Krug, “Grande Cuvée,” Brut Champagne
Crafted from a blend of over 120 wines, this incredible expression of sparkling Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meunier is a true benchmark for luxury Champagne.
Best Value Magnum
Ameztoi, “Hijo de Rubentis,” Sparkling Txakolina Rosé, Spain 2016
Made of the indigenous grape Hondarribi Beltza, this fully sparkling wine from Ameztoi offers the same quality and production of Champagne but comes from the Basque region of northern Spain.
Empire Estate, Dry Riesling, “Reserve,” Finger Lakes, New York 2017
An intense and rich expression of dry riesling from Finger Lakes, with only a limited number of magnums produced. Yellow apple, baked lemon, ginger, and minerality shine through on the palate.
Tannic & Rustic Magnum
Vietti, “Perbacco,” Nebbiolo, Langhe, Italy 2017
Aromas of red cherry, potpourri, and licorice jump out of the glass with this delicious expression of Nebbiolo. This wine is a blend crafted from wines that often are celebrated as single vineyard Barolo bottlings and offers the drinker a chance to experience quality Nebbio without the price tag of Barolo.
Big & Bold Magnum
Cain Vineyard, “Cain Five,” Red Blend, Spring Mountain District, Napa Valley, California 2013
A full-bodied blend of high elevation Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot offering blackberry, cassis, and tobacco notes. A consistently delicious Napa Valley red.
P.S. — Always remember to taste the wine before serving to make sure it’s not flawed and showing well.
— By Sean Crenny