Hurray for half bottles

Half bottles of wine

Do you tend to think of a glass as half full, or half empty?

The answer to that might give an indication of your feelings towards half-bottles of wine. At 375ml, they naturally only hold half as much wine as a ‘regular’ 750ml bottle. Boo, you might think – where’s the rest? But if you’re a keen snaffler of wine (let’s call ourselves ‘oenophiles’ rather than just plain greedy) then the smaller format does offer the opportunity to try a wider variety of wines in one session than the full-sized version does.

There’s a feeling that comes with a bigger bottle too. A magnum looks impressive. At my last birthday I received a rather ace 3L bottle of Kumeu River Matés which felt very indulgent indeed. A bigger bottle makes a bolder statement, and are supposed to keep the wine in a better condition, for longer. So, a half-bottle looks a tad weedy next to that, and maybe even a bit stingy?

But – since the amount of air betwixt cork and wine is the same, give or take, in a half-bottle and a full bottle – then the humble half offers the opportunity to try a wine that will have accelerated ageing. I’ve had a tiny bottle recently of a wine that I wouldn’t have considered opening for many moons yet if it was the big brother size; and it was accessible, bright and hugely quaffable – like getting an invite to the preview of a new show before everyone else gets to see it.

If your ideal evening of wine goes from bubbles, to white, to red – then the process is much more achievable using smaller quantities. You’d be pushing it for a couple to do that on 750ml bottles, but the demi-bottle cuts back on any wastage, or feeling that you have to over indulge in order to justify opening bottles. Possibly the greatest use of a small bottle is to be filled with bubbles – Winston Churchill certainly thought so, as legend has it he would get through an army’s worth of his preferred Pol Roger in miniature format.

Morgon Cote du Py

At a pre-birthday cheap ‘n’ cheerful meal that consisted of dumplings, chilli-flecked beef, seafood and more last night; the armful of demi-bottles that my wine-loving dining companion arrived clutching, turned out to be perfectly suited to the diverse range of flavours that tickled our tastebuds. We got through a white Rhone blend with our dumplings, a Morgon with the pork-stuffed eggplant, an elegant Alsace Gewurz with the prawns, and a robust Crozes-Hermitage with the sizzling steak. Made my selection of two very nice Chardonnays (only one of which was actually a Chardonnay – haha – gotcha) look quite pedestrian.

So I’d say you can do things by halves (and have a lot of fun too).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.