Wine

O’s wine ex­pert ex­plains why small bot­tles are hit­ting the big time

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Our wine ex­pert ex­plains why small bot­tles are hit­ting the big time

“Drink less, drink bet­ter” has be­come some­thing of a mantra in dis­cern­ing drink­ing cir­cles. Al­co­hol con­sump­tion in the UK is on a down­ward trend, par­tic­u­larly among younger peo­ple, who are far more sober than their boozy par­ents and seem to pre­fer qual­ity over quan­tity.

Half bot­tles of wine fit this bill to a tee. They suit mid­week drink­ing for those who want one glass with­out the temp­ta­tion of pol­ish­ing off a whole bot­tle; and self-re­strained in­di­vid­u­als who might not fin­ish an open bot­tle un­til it’s past its prime (most wines lose their charm two or three days after open­ing). Re­cently, su­per­mar­kets have launched half bot­tles of cheap and cheer­ful wines for such oc­ca­sions; although small bot­tles are also great for those who balk at pay­ing top dol­lar for a whole bot­tle, but still want qual­ity.

The ex­cise duty levied on wine, around £2.60 on ev­ery 75cl bot­tle, plus other taxes and lo­gis­tics costs, means that you get far bet­ter qual­ity by spend­ing a lit­tle more. The value of wine in a £5 75cl bot­tle is only 37p, while that in a half bot­tle at the same price is around £1.38 – and the more you spend, the more com­par­a­tive qual­ity you get. Good in­de­pen­dent wine shops should be able to guide you, or head for classy online mer­chants such as Berry Bros & Rudd and

The Wine So­ci­ety. Half bot­tles are also a smart choice if you want to start with, say, a white wine with a light starter then move on to red with a hearty main.

Sweet and for­ti­fied wines also suit small sizes.

I al­ways have a half bot­tle of dry sherry in my fridge, usu­ally a su­per­mar­ket own brand (most are made by fa­mously good sherry houses) as they’re such bril­liant value and are great to cook with as well as to sip while you’re stir­ring. Fino or man­zanilla styes make a lovely crisp aper­i­tif but need to be drunk within a cou­ple of weeks of open­ing (no great hard­ship in my house), while dry olorosos and amon­til­la­dos give more depth and rich­ness, and last much longer.

Half bot­tles are also ideal for solo din­ers. Sin­gleper­son house­holds are at an all-time high, an­other rea­son su­per­mar­kets are car­ry­ing more small-for­mat bot­tles. Ev­ery­body should be able to en­joy a glass or two of wine with din­ner; small bot­tles keep both your bank bal­ance and your liver happy.

@KateHawk­ings

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