Methuselah, Salmanazar, Jeroboam, Rehoboam, Nebuchadnezzar are names more popular with Christians and Bible scholars than with champagne drinkers.
You may wonder what champagne drinking has got to do with these biblical characters. Well, these same names also denote different sizes of champagne bottles.
While the most common champagne bottle is the traditional 75CL bottle, followed by the ‘magnum’ 2-litre bottle, other bottle sizes are not quite as popular. However, aside from their massive sizes, there is a bit of mystery surrounding their names.
Why are Champagne bottles named after biblical kings?
No one knows exactly why Champagne producers chose to name magnum bottles after ancient Jewish kings and patriarchs. However, Champagne expert Francois Bonal suggested that winemakers in Bordeaux had been using the name Jeroboam for the four-bottle size since 1725.
It is believed that the name Jeroboam (the biblical founder of Israel who ruled from 931-920 BC) was used because he is considered in Jewish history as “a man of great worth,” just as the larger sized champagne bottles.
Bonal further explains that a Champagne Medieval poet, Eugene Destuche, mentioned several of these names in his poetry. The region of Champagne adopted the Jeroboam size and followed suit with larger format bottles developed in the 1940’s, continuing the practice of selecting biblical kings and patriarchs.
What Bible king owns what size?
|Jeroboam||King of Israel in 9th century BC||3 litres|
|Rehoboam||Son of Solomon and king of Israel in 10th century BC||4.5 litres|
|Methuselah||Named after the biblical patriarch who lived 969 years||6 litres|
|Salmanazar||Named after an Assyrian king that lived in the 9th century BC||9 litres|
|Balthazar||Named after a regent of Babylon, living in the 6th century BC. One of the Three Wise Men who followed the Star of Bethlehem to the nativity.||12 litres|
|Nebuchadnezzar||The king of Babylon who lived in the 6th century BC||15 litres|
|Melchior||One of the Three Wise Men, who might have been the magi to give the baby Jesus gold.||18 litres|
|Solomon||The third king of Israel as well as the son of David. He is a prophet in both the Talmud and the Quran.||20 litres|
|Goliath (or Primat)||The giant Philistine warrior that a young King David had to face in the famous Bible story.||27 litres|
|Melchizedek||King of Salem and he a priest of God.||30 litres|
These bottle names may be a tribute to these ancient kings, but if look a bit deeper, you’ll find that each name is completely appropriate for each bottle size.
For example, the Methuselah might be a playful statement on the ageing potential for a wine in a 6-litre bottle.
Balthazar was a Babylonian king who drank some wine out of holy chalices from a temple and incurred God’s wrath. While Balthazar was partying, the Persians invaded and the Babylonians lost power. This might be a playful reminder of what is at risk if you intend finishing 12 litres of champagne alone.
In the chronology of Jewish kings, Rehoboam came after Jeroboam. It goes without saying why both bottle sizes are named accordingly.
For the Goliath, even if the name was not in use, it would still be a fitting adjective for a bottle that holds a whopping 36 standard bottles of champagne.