All hail 'Maximus,' the world's largest bottle of wine

The world's largest bottle of wine was auctioned off at Sotheby's in New York last weekend. Dubbed "Maximus" by the president of the U.S. chapter of the Court of Master Sommeliers, the mammoth bottle -- which contains over 1,200 glasses of red wine -- was fashioned by Czech craftsmen and glassblowers.

"As we say, 'records are meant to be broken.' So without further ado, it gives me enormous pleasure to officially recognize the largest bottle of wine in the world -- a new Guinness world record. Congratulations."

In a June ceremony, a researcher for the Guinness Book of World Records certifies that -- standing four and a half feet tall and weighing in at 340 pounds --"Maximus" is indeed the largest wine bottle ever made. Commissioned for the 25th anniversary of the founding of America's famous Morton's steakhouse chain, the bottle was lovingly filled with 130 liters of private reserve Cabernet Sauvignon from the Beringer Vineyards in California.

The massive wine bottle was a year in the making, from conception to corking. Initial plans were drawn up in late 2003 by the Seattle-based glass engineer and artist Charles Parriott.

"Glass-making, like with a lot of other art, the larger you get, everything proportionately gets larger. The size of the place you need to work in gets bigger; the challenges in making the mould, for example, for the bottle, were extreme, so we had to find the exact, correct craftspeople to do this work."

Mr Parriott was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship in 1995 to survey glass education in the Czech Republic -- a country renown for its centuries-old glass-working tradition. Nearly a decade later -- when asked to create the bottle for the Morton's steakhouse chain -- Mr Parriott turned to Czech and English artisans to help create the world's largest wine bottle.

The first mold was made by a firm some 100 kilometers south-east of Prague. Mr Parriott had some concerns about the quality, but agreed to proceed with the first bottle-blowing attempt -- in Sunderland, England. But the giant bottle proved unstable: Mr Parriott transported it back to the Czech Republic for another go.

"We found a mold-maker in the north of Bohemia and a factory in the south of Bohemia, and it was just bringing all these people together that, again, still remained to be the challenge. We had great help though."

That second attempt -- which proved to be successful -- began at the Kavalier Glass Works near the Czech town of Sazava. By June this year, four rough, mammoth bottles had been fashioned there. The bottles were later polished and finished at SKLO Bohemia in Sazava and finally shipped on to California.

Last weekend, the best of the lot, the wine-filled bottle "Maximus," sold for $56,000 at a Sotheby's auction of fine and rare wines in New York. The proceeds will go to charity: No word yet on who gets to drink the 1200 glasses of Cabernet Sauvignon.