Winston Churchill famously quipped that a magnum was “the perfect size for two gentleman over lunch, especially if one of them isn’t drinking”. After wondering whether World War Two could have ended earlier had afternoons at Downing Street been more productive, is it time to ask ourselves whether the magnum is overrated? Here are four reasons:
1. If we can ever have parties again, people will secretly hate you
The English hold a deep-seated mistrust of hedonism. Speaking as a man who once received a dental retainer as a (main) Christmas present, the idea of showing up to a party composed of anyone other than hardcore wine enthusiasts bearing a magnum of champagne is unthinkable. Try explaining the benefits of reduced oxygen ingress on bottle fermentation to your uncle’s birdwatching circle. It will not work. They will detest you, mentally sending you back to your 1980s Porsche to shout stock prices down a headset.
2. They don’t fit in the fridge
You will have to lie them down, sealed with a stopper and a prayer. They will leak. I recommend putting some soft cheese underneath – Langres is the traditional choice, being traditionally served with a splash of champagne on top. You will need about £80 worth to absorb the leakage from one magnum.
(they also don’t fit in wine racks)
3. They are embarrassing to recycle
My local council does not collect glass for recycling. Dealing with an empty magnum therefore means taking it to a bottle bank. This is conveniently located by a bus stop in front of the community centre. In one of the poorest boroughs of London. The hole appears to be no more than 75cl-sized and the bins are frequently full-to-bursting, meaning you have to coyly deposit your bottles at the side like some kind of public shaming ritual. As yet I have not worked up the courage to run this particular gauntlet.
4. They taste much, much better than normal bottles
And finally, the most annoying trait of all. Magnums are amazing. The dynamics of fermentation are different. The levels of oxygen entering the wine after disgorgement are lower, meaning the wine ages more slowly. Good magnums of sparkling wine develop an irresistible, sultry smoky reductiveness that marries up with their extra dose of energy and resilience to lift the wine into another plane. Once you drink a few, be prepared to wonder “I wonder what this would taste like in magnum” about every single 75cl bottle you ever drink. I call it FOMOOM. Fear Of Missing Out On Magnums.
Knowledge is a curse.