Log In / Join Now

Ask Dr. Vinny

Do you have a question for Dr. Vinny? Ask it here...

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

Wine Basics

We break down the basics—how to taste, serve, store and more. Plus:
» Maps of major wine regions
» Grape variety characteristics

How-to Videos

Learn to taste wine like a pro, pull a cork with flair, get great wine service in a restaurant and more

Wine Spectator School: All courses are FREE for WineSpectator.com Members

Learn from the experts and get the most out of each sip. Take one of our online courses or take them all—from the ABCs of Tasting to in-depth seminars on Food Pairing, California Cabernet, Bordeaux, Tuscany, Sensory Evaluation and more.

Browse our course catalog
Check out the professional wine sales and service courses
Learn Wine Forum: Got questions? Get answers

WineRatings+ app: Download now for 340,000+ ratings.