Why is wine 750 ml?

Wine has been an integral part of human civilization for thousands of years. However, one peculiar aspect that many wine drinkers may not have pondered is – why is the standard bottle of wine 750 ml? This volume has become the accepted standard, but how did this specific amount become the norm? There are some intriguing historical and practical factors that led to 750 ml becoming the typical wine bottle size.

The History of the 750 ml Wine Bottle

In the early days of winemaking, there was no standard bottle size. Wine was stored and transported in a variety of vessels, including amphorae, barrels, skins, and clay jugs. By the 17th century, glass wine bottles started to emerge in Europe with experimentation of different sizes and shapes.

It was not until the late 17th to early 18th century that wine producers in Bordeaux, France began commonly using glass bottles. As Bordeaux wines gained popularity, their standard bottle size began to solidify. According to wine historian Zeldin, the first reference to the Bordeaux bottle size was in 1735, described as containing 26 French fluid ounces. This converts to approximately 750 ml.

Why exactly 750 ml instead of a rounded number like 700 or 800 ml? There are a few possible explanations:

  • It is divisible into convenient serving sizes – 750 ml can be divided into six 125 ml servings or three 250 ml servings.
  • It was approximately the amount of wine needed for ageing red Bordeaux wines.
  • It aligned with established French trade standards. Under French roi, trade standards for the Paris pint were defined as 26 French ounces. This converted to 765 ml, which was rounded down to the convenient 750 ml size.

As Bordeaux wine gained immense popularity in the 18th and 19th century, its distinctive bottle shape and 750 ml size became the international norm. By the 20th century, 750 ml was established as the standard worldwide for all still wines – red, white, rosé, sparkling and fortified.

Advantages of 750 ml Wine Bottles

Beyond historical tradition, there are some practical advantages to having 750 ml as the standard wine bottle size:

Serving sizes

750 ml equates to approximately 25 fluid ounces. This can be efficiently divided into customary wine serving sizes:

  • A single serving is typically 5 ounces.
  • A generous pour is around 6-8 ounces.
  • 750 ml contains about 5 standard servings.
  • This makes portion control intuitive for restaurants and bars.

Aging potential

750 ml is well-suited to the maturation process for age-worthy wines. It provides sufficient space for oxygen to interact with the wine. This volume also allows proper aging development over several years for wines that benefit from cellaring.

Manufacturing efficiency

Glass bottle production is a high-volume, mass-production operation. Having a standard 750 ml size allows manufacturers to maximize efficiency and economies of scale. The uniform dimensions and weight of the bottles allows streamlined processing.

Standardized 750 ml bottles also enable efficiencies for other wine industry equipment like filling lines, capsuling machines, labeling machines, packaging sleeves, shipping cases, etc.

Consumer familiarity

After centuries of the 750 ml bottle size, it has become ingrained into consumer culture and expectations. When reaching for a bottle of wine, most people associate the 750 ml package with the proper amount for their needs. This familiarity has an impact on consumer perception and buying decisions.

Deviating far from 750 ml requires more consumer education and likely additional justification for the atypical volume.

Alternatives to 750 ml Wine Bottles

Despite the entrenchment of 750 ml bottles, some producers are experimenting with alternative sizes:

500 ml

Some wine brands offer 500 ml bottles, equivalent to 16.9 oz. These “half bottles” contain about 2.5 typical servings of wine. The smaller format provides additional flexibility in situations when a full 750 ml bottle is not needed.

187 ml

The 187 ml size holds 1⁄4 of the volume of a standard bottle – about 6.3 oz or one typical serving of wine. These single-serve bottles provide options for trying new wines without opening a full bottle.

1 liter

1 liter bottles have approximately 25% more volume compared to 750 ml. This larger format can be more economical for consumers when purchasing wines for everyday drinking. It also offers efficiencies for restaurants pourng by-the-glass.


Bag-in-box packaging holds 1.5 liters, 2 liters, or 3 liters of wine in a plastic bladder inside a cardboard box. This allows extended shelf-life of the wine after opening. The larger format bag-in-boxes are commonly seen for cheaper table wines.

Personalized sizes

Some wineries allow customers to fill customized volumes like 5 liters, 20 liters, etc. This provides flexibility for buyers to purchase the exact amount needed.

Despite these options, 750 ml remains the clearly dominant size worldwide. Alternative formats represent a very small percentage of overall wine production and sales.

Standardization Across Countries

While 750 ml is ubiquitous across the global wine industry, bottle size regulations are not universal. Some country-specific differences include:

European Union

The EU regulates wine bottle sizes that can be labeled with a specific region. Standards must be one of these: 100 ml, 187 ml, 375 ml, 500 ml, 750 ml, 1 liter, or 1.5 liters.

Germany and Austria

Germany and Austria permit 250 ml bottles in addition to EU sizes. This smaller 250 ml format is associated with Austrian Rieslings and German Mosel wines.

United States

American regulations allow any size, as long as the volume is clearly printed on the label. Common sizes in the US beyond 750 ml are: 375 ml, 1 liter, 1.5 liter, 3 liter.

Australia and New Zealand

Australia and New Zealand also allow variable sized wine bottles, with common options like 500 ml, 750 ml, 1 liter, 1.5 liters, 2 liters.

However, 750 ml remains the standard bottle size accounting for the vast majority of worldwide wine production and consumption.

How Many Glasses in a 750ml Bottle of Wine?

A 750ml bottle contains approximately 25 ounces of wine or 5 standard 5-ounce pours. However, the actual number of glasses that can be poured from a 750ml bottle depends on the specific pour size:

Glass Size Total Glasses Per Bottle
2 ounces 12
3 ounces 8
4 ounces 6
5 ounces (standard) 5
6 ounces (generous) 4
8 ounces (large) 3

As shown above, a 750ml bottle provides anywhere from 3 to 12 glasses of wine depending on each glass’s poured volume. When estimating for a dinner party or gathering, determine your preferred pour size to calculate how many bottles are needed for the number of guests.

Trends and the Future of Wine Bottle Sizes

Will we see any shift away from the 750 ml wine bottle size in the future? Here are some possible trends to watch:

Environmental impact

There is increased consumer awareness of packaging’s environmental footprint. Larger bottle sizes use less glass per volume of wine, reducing waste and emissions from manufacturing and transportation. Some producers are starting to highlight their 1 liter+ formats as a greener option.

Demand for convenience

Smaller bottle sizes may increase in popularity due to consumer demand for convenience. The 187ml single-serve size makes it easy to enjoy wines by-the-glass without open bottle leftovers. Similarly, 500ml half-bottles provide flexibility for a smaller volume.

Premium branding

Small bottle formats allow premium wineries to sell very high-end wines with restricted production volumes. Examples are the 50ml, 100ml, or 187ml bottles used by some top Bordeaux chateaux for their classified growth wines.

Bag-in-box inroads

The stigma of boxed wine is diminishing with some quality producers offering bag-in-box. The advantages like freshness, sustainability and value may push this format into the mainstream, especially for everyday drinking wines.

But for higher-end, quality wines intended for cellaring or gifting, the 750ml glass bottle will likely maintain its perception advantages and stay dominant.


In summary, the origins of 750 ml as the standard wine bottle size stem from historical traditions in Bordeaux in tandem with French commerce standards. This volume stuck and propagated internationally due to the immense popularity of famous Bordeaux wines.

Beyond legacy, practical factors like serving sizes, aging needs, manufacturing efficiency and familiarity for consumers reinforce the staying power of 750 ml bottles.

Alternative formats emerge here and there, and have potential to gain share in certain segments. But dethroning the 750 ml wine bottle from its position atop the industry seems a very unlikely scenario anytime soon.

The 750 ml bottle has just the right heritage and utility to endure as the world’s wine packaging standard for centuries to come.

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