Oenologie - Pourquoi les bouteilles font 75cl ? - Les Grappes

Why are the bottles 75cl?

Many wonder why the bottles of wine are 75cl and not 1L. Les Grappes are there to answer this question!

A bit of history

It is important to know that the wine bottle was standardized in the 19th century. So you can still find on the label 73 cl on very old bottles. They had then a capacity of 75 cl. But when they put the cork, the bottle overflowed and 2 cl were lost. Today we display 75 cl on the wine bottles; without the cork the capacity would be 77 cl.

Received ideas

The capacity is 75 cl for a practical reason. It is neither because it corresponds to the pulmonary capacity of a glassblower. Neither for conservation reasons. Neither because the size of this bottle is related to the average consumption during a meal. According to some people we drink an average of 75 cl of wine when we share a meal. All these reasons are false! In Europe and in France, the law authorizes eight different volumes
from 100 ml to 1.5L.

The real reason

The wine bottles were standardized at 75 cl because at the time, the main customers of the French wine estates were our English neighbours. But the difference between the English and the French is a concern for the exchanges. The measurement system of the English is the imperial gallon which is precisely equivalent to 4.54609 litres. Conversions from one measure to another are not simple and therefore a common quantity must be found.

To avoid too many complications during the conversion, it was agreed that 225 liters would be transported in barrels, which is equivalent, rounding up, to 50 gallons. The goal was to have a round figure. Moreover, 225 liters correspond to 300 bottles of 75 cl. Fixing the capacity at 75 cl was thus the solution to facilitate the exchanges with the English and to continue the sales. Proposing another volume would have complicated things! The 75 cl capacity was therefore standardized to facilitate the situation and is now implemented in a European way. 1 gallon was therefore worth 6 bottles.

Even today, the wine trade is still marked by this history because most cases of wine bottles are sold in groups of 6 or 12!

Lou Dubois for Les Grappes

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