Does size really matter?

wine wankers most influential wine blogs halfbottlesWe at The Wine Wankers do seem to have a preoccupation with wine bottle sizes and packaging. We have rattled on about the benefits of magnums (see Neal’s article here) and cask wine (see Drew’s article here and Neal’s article here) and now half bottles. Not sure the genesis of this fascination, perhaps a psychologist out there reading this can help. They say people uncomfortable with their package tend to bang on about it more, hmm.

We have recently observed a proliferation of half sized bottles at our local bottle shops, and we were intrigued as to why. A lot of wineries do half sized bottles (375 ml) but we largely tend to ignore them for their larger brethren, the 750ml. When was the last time you rocked up to a dinner party with a half bottle of wine? Not sure the host would be too impressed; that said we do have some friends that would gladly exploit this loophole if they were aware of the half bottle (are you reading this Pat?).

wine wankers most influential wine blogs small bottle sizeAnyway we thought we would speak to the experts at our local bottle shop, and crack open a few little beauties to see whether we could see ourselves adopting this hitherto disregarded bottle size. The Bellevue Hill Bottle Shop (in Sydney, Australia), as well as having an amazing range of wine, have a section of their business that specialises in this format. These guys are an independent small business that really demonstrate a passion for wine. Who better to ask to enlighten us on the benefits of the half bottle.

Righto 10 reasons a half bottle is better;

  1. You can open a couple of bottles and compare them side to side, whereas you might be reluctant to do this with a 750ml if you could not finish them both. No one wants to pour stale wine down the sink the next morning.
  2. If you are single/living alone/unsociable you can open a bottle and have a couple of glasses with no wastage/spoilage.
  3. The wine matures more quickly and thus allows you to have a sneak preview of what a full bottle of wine will taste like in a few years. Maturation of a half bottle is accelerated due to the fact that the oxygen level in the bottle will have a stronger effect on a smaller amount of wine.
  4. A couple of glasses of a premium wine might rock your world more than 4-5 glasses of a lesser wine. Drink less, drink better.
  5. For couples it’s great for a midweek glass each with dinner if you don’t want to commit to a 750ml.
  6. You can drink good stuff for less. You might be reluctant to spring for that lovely bottle of Burgundy, but half the amount might fit the budget.
  7. Half bottles can be a way of controlling your drinking. There are many of us who find themselves unwittingly polishing of half a bottle, or more, of wine every night. If you’re buying half bottles it becomes much harder to do that.
  8. Half bottles are awesome for gifts, hampers, parties, functions, weddings, restaurants, you name it! There are so many situations where replacing a full bottle with a half bottle would be of benefit.
  9. They take up less room in your cellar/wine fridge. This allows you more room for variety, and we all love variety.
  10. You could, theoretically, drink straight from the bottle. If you have been invited to a bbq and your tastes don’t lean to beer/cider, you can now feel part of the crowd and crack a half bottle. Very refined. Maybe even a straw?

wine wankers most influential wine blogsTo explore the virtues of the half bottle we had a Wine Wanker tasting to see whether we could embrace the format. In truth we really enjoyed it, there were four of us and a half bottle was the perfect size to pour out four tasting size glasses. It allowed us to taste a wider variety of wine without throwing anything out.

Give it a go, you too might be a convert.

Author: Neal (The Wine Wankers)

Contact info: Bellevue Hill Bottle Shop, 100A Bellevie Hill Road, Bellevue Hill, 2023. Email info@bellevuehillbottleshop.com.au Web http://www.halfbottles.com.au

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43 comments

  1. Great article! I remember a couple of years back Tim Kirk, Clonakilla, did an informal poll of customers about releasing his wines as 375 ml and the feedback was very positive. They now release many of their wines in that format – probably for many of the reasons you list above 🙂

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  2. This kind of fits into #7 but one reason my husband and I will have a half bottle in a restaurant is because we can each have a good wine with dinner (ordering by the glass can be an interesting exercise) without having to worry about the drive home. Good post. 🙂

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  3. Nope, I can’t jump aboard that bandwagon. I’m always sad when the bottle is empty. There is never leftover wine. Half a bottle would be a mean, lowdown tease. Two glasses is not enough.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. We have long been fans of the half-bottle, primarily due to the “second bottle conundrum”. The main problem is the pricing. If they charged, say 55% for a half bottle, it would be no problem. But it seems they often charge something like 70-80%. At that level, what’s the point?

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  5. Because I live on my own I would prefer to buy half bottles. The only problem is that they seem to be more expensive and only a few wines come in half bottle size. Another advantage of half bottles is that one doesn’t drink more that what one should.

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  6. great post!

    #3 and #10 particularly good points 😉

    I would also add that some types of wine are often consumed in half bottles as we rarely fancy a full bottle of Fino or dessert wine (apart from me!)

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  7. Great post, might July get a half bottle for our picnic basket to take to the stables, lol my horse riding skills are so much better after a glass of wine, or straight from the bottle 😉

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  8. Love the theory but (in Oz at least) half bottles apart from stickies are few and far between. What I have noticed recently is more and more restaurants (and bars) are offering wine in varying quantities from 75ml to 1/2 litre. 1/2 litre is particularly good if there two of you – allows room for a glass of sticky!

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    • Hey Stefan,

      It’s funny you might ask that. We have (obviously) and to be honest it really depends on the wine which you are drinking. Some wines tend to flaunt their stuff a lot earlier than expected and others seem to be drinking pretty similarly. Realistically, it’s a bit of a gamble which will generally result in you drinking more wine (not a bad thing).

      Hope that answered your question (albeit two months late).

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks, this confirms what I expected as I’ve been curious but have not done a side by side myself yet. What would make it difficult is that with aged wines I’ve noticed significant differences between bottles of the same size, so it would be difficult to attribute differences to bottle size.

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  9. I can understand that the wine is a little more expensive in half bottles. I am a disabled pensioner and nowhere near a grog shop that sells half bottles. So delivery is my only option. Went to half bottle wines. 187ml bottles? WTF?. But to get 12 x 375ml (equivalent to 6 x 750ml) bottles delivered was $21.00 whereas I can get free delivery from some places but usually $9 – $12 per full size dozen. Hopefully with all the RBT crap going around hopefully more major wine outlets, Murphys etc, might start stocking more 375ml. Great for me to take to a restaurant because my girlfriend dosnt drink red, only white, (yeah Im working on it) and I am the type of person that once a bottle is opened, I finish it.

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