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Dear Dr. Vinny,
When Wine Spectator lists a wine's production volume (i.e. “1,000 cases made”), are these 6-bottle cases or 12-bottle cases? Why not mention the exact number of bottles instead?
—Georg V., Germany
Since wine is a liquid, it’s discussed in terms of volume, and once the wine is packaged and ready to be sold, the industry standard is to track it in 9-liter units, which is the equivalent of 12 standard 750ml bottles. We don't calculate volume in terms of the number of bottles produced because bottles come in so many different sizes (and many wines don't come in bottles at all).
Whenever we provide the number of cases produced or imported, we are talking about standard 9-liter cases (12 750ml bottles). If a wine is sold in an unusual format (like 375ml half-bottles or 1.5-liter magnums), we do the math and convert the amount into that 9-liter case equivalent. Even if a winery sells their wine in three-packs or six-packs, production is still calculated in terms of 9-liter cases. We get that information directly from producers and importers.
The idea behind standardizing the unit of measure is that no matter what size the bottle is, we’re still comparing apples to apples (or grape juice to grape juice, if you prefer). It doesn’t matter if a winery only packages its wine in magnum or 1-liter Tetra Paks or 19.5-liter kegs—by converting to 9-liter cases, we hope that we can give you a good sense of how much wine is available in relation to its peers.
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