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Dear Dr. Vinny,

Is it my imagination, or have wine bottles been getting smaller?

—Nancy, Waldport, Ore.

Dear Nancy,

The size and weight of the bottle itself can vary from wine to wine, but the volume inside does not. Legally, a standard bottle contains 750 milliliters of wine. The bottle typically is made in a way to allow some ullage, or headspace, which allows for changes in pressure and temperature that can cause the liquid inside to expand. But the volume of wine is always 750 milliliters.

There was a trend in the 1990s and into the 2000s toward superheavy, oversized bottles that were intended to convey status, but that has thankfully started to fall out of favor, especially considering the increased carbon footprint that extra weight creates. While those big, heavy bottles may have seemed impressive, they didn’t fit into standard wine racks, and they were more expensive to ship. Between the global financial crisis and growing “green” business moves, most producers have abandoned that trend in favor of lighter, more standard-size bottles. Sparkling wines have certain structural and strength demands to safely contain all that pressurized carbon dioxide, but I have also noticed those bottles lightening up as well.

—Dr. Vinny

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