The term "monster" is often used to describe some of the big, brawny Cabernets that come out of California. But Beringer Vineyards and Morton's restaurants have created a real monster--the world's biggest wine bottle.
The 4-foot, 5-inch-high "Maximus" was carefully filled with 130 liters of 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Private Reserve at Beringer's winery in St. Helena, where the record was made official by Guinness World Records inspectors. That's enough wine to fill more than 1,000 glasses, if anyone is daring enough to attempt the pour.
The Brobdingnagian bottle will be auctioned off for charity in November at Sotheby's in New York. All proceeds will benefit Share Our Strength, an international anti-hunger organization. (An added bonus: The regular bottlings of the 2001 Private Reserve Cabernet won't be released until fall 2005). A duplicate bottle will tour Morton's steakhouses around the country in celebration of the chain's 25th anniversary.
Most large-format bottles--like the 4.5-liter jeroboam, the 6-liter methuselah and the 9-liter salmanazar--are named after biblical kings. But the Maximus, almost nine times as big as the 15-liter nebuchadnezzar, is fit for one--King Kong, that is.
And it was 10 times more difficult to produce. To oversee the hand-blown bottle's production, Beringer hired Charles Parriott, a Seattle-based glass artist who has worked with Dale Chihuly. Working with companies in the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom, Parriott first created a mold for the vessel and then fired four bottles, a five-man job. The bottle was blown from strong, clear Simax glass--typically used for large industrial containers--then stained green. The tricky part, Parriott said, was shaping the bottle before the glass hardened. "Simax loses its viscosity more rapidly than typical glass, so when it left the 2,900-degree Fahrenheit oven, we had to move quickly," he said. "It's hard to get that much glass to behave. As a glassmaker it was a wonderful challenge."
The bottle was sealed with a natural cork provided by Cork Supply USA. And anyone curious about how to extract such a cork should know that Beringer thought ahead to that problem too: They've created a gigantic corkscrew.