The toast? It’s anti-crisis: sales of extra-large format bubbles are soaring

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Who has ever seen one live Mathusalem? It is a bottle of wine, usually bubbles, more than half a meter high, which contains 6 liters of liquid capable of filling around fifty toast glasses. Its name derives from the longest-lived character of the Old Testament, Methuselah, and immediately gives the idea of ​​a bottle well beyond the standard. The cost is undoubtedly proportional to its scope, but this fact does not seem to scare consumers, even in a period of flat economic growth and skyrocketing inflation. This is demonstrated by the order register of the Villa Sandi winery, the Treviso wine house led by the Moretti Polegato family, one of the main producers of Prosecco, both DOC and DOCG: over the last year the demand for Mathusalem size bottles of its Opera line, classic method, recorded a peak of +200%.

Who is buying formats like these, decidedly anti-crisis? The primary driver of this trend, which even seems to be increasing in these days preceding the holidays, is catering. But therehe demand for large formats is gaining ground also in large-scale organized distribution, as well as in points of sale on the Italian motorway network. We toast an anniversary, an anniversary, a graduation, a retirement. Or, simply, you are a group of friends at the table who don’t hold back from a glass. «If for still wines we have been registering interest in large formats for some time, especially on the part of collectors – explains the president of Villa Sandi, Giancarlo Moretti Polegato – as far as sparkling wines are concerned this is something new. In France, the ritual of uncorking magnum bottles is an established custom. Today, even in Italy, catering is triggering a gradual and natural cultural change, which has interpreted new requests, and is investing time and skills to enhance different consumption situations”.

In addition to the Mathusalem, they are also going strong at Villa Sandi the 3 liter Jeroboams, whose demand has grown by 50% in 2023. Some call them “double magnum”, and this format also owes its name to the Bible: according to the Old Testament, Jeroboam was the first king of the northern part of Israel and was crowned by the 10 Tribes who rose up against Rehoboam, son of Solomon.

When it comes to extra-large, however, you can do even better than a Mathusalem. A Salmanazar – from the surname of at least five Assyrian kings – is worth 9 liters, the equivalent of 12 bottles. A Balthazar instead it is worth 12: it takes its name from one of the three Magi kings (in Italy we call him Belshazzar) and represents the African populations. Then there’s the Nebuchadnezzar, a 15 liter or 20 bottle flagship. He was the greatest king of Babylon and conquered Jerusalem. But the largest bottle ever made is one Primat: worth 27 litres, the equivalent of 36 bottles. Primat (primate) era the name given to some archbishopsthose who enjoyed a sort of superiority over all the bishops of a given region.

With the end-of-year holidays upon us, according to the Uiv-Ismea Observatory, our country is preparing to uncorking 95 million bottles of bubbles made in Italy. Counting 2023 as a whole, consumption of Italian bubbles stands at 936 million bottles, of which 7 out of 10 are uncorked abroad. Due to the effects of inflation and the surplus of production costs, this year the average price grew by 5%.



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