Thu 12 Feb 2015

Why You Might Like To Do Things By Halves This Valentine’s


In water ones sees one’s own face; but in wine one holds the heart of another. – French Proverb

Far be it from me to hinder one’s hydration but the day for love approaches. Wine considerations feature highly on this day: my partner and I decided many moons ago not to venture out on Valentine’s to subject ourselves to the set menus but to instead stay home and try and create our own feast using the money saved to add to a food fund and also a wine reserve allowing us to choose and purchase four bottles of wine…

…half bottles that is.

Half bottles from The Wine SocietyI mentioned some time ago that these perfect proportions allow you to be more indulgent and match your wine to a particular course should you wish to, without feeling guilty or feeling you are hampering your health.

Commencing with something sparkling is a prerequisite for us. The Society’s Champagne Brut NV (£14.95 per half) will do nicely and would suit most canapés you could throw at it – even, I am told, hand-cooked crisps.

Our starter more often than not is seafood based and our halves selection offers everything from mussels-friendly The Society’s Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine sur Lie (£4.50 per half) or Riesling, Trimbach 2012 (£6.25), which is glorious with dover sole. If fish is not your thing the affinity Pouilly-Fume, Domaine Seguin 2013 (£7.50) has with goat’s cheese sets off a tart or salad starter brilliantly; or maybe mushroom risotto with Soave, Pieropan 2013 (£6.50).

For the mains, French trimmed lamb chops and the Bordeaux-esque spice of South Africa’s Rustenberg John X Merriman, Stellenbosch 2009 (£7.25), or maybe pan-fried duck breast with the full-flavoured Pinot Gris Tradition, Hugel 2012 (£6.95). A rich roasted vegetable ratatouille and Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Domaine du Vieux Lazaret 2011 (£9.50) also have a mutual attraction in my experience.

For dessert, whether it is cheese or something sweet, Samos Anthemis 2007 (£6.95) lends itself to both and permits a pleasurable ending to the evening.

Whether or not you celebrate Valentine’s day I hope this supplies food for thought.

Remember the bottle is not half empty, but half full!

Conrad Braganza
Cellar Showroom


  1. Guy Dennis says:

    It’s such a shame that you don’t offer halves in your Rhone (with just a couple of exceptions) and Burgundy en primeur offers, and few in your Bordeaux ones. I’ve never really understood why this is.

    • Ewan Murray says:

      Hello Guy.
      Many thanks for your comment. I have consulted with Tim (Bordeaux), Toby (Burgundy) and Marcel (Rhône) and we would reply as follows.

      In the Rhône most growers are not set up to bottling in halves or not inclined to. A few larger estates do such as Vieux Telegraph.

      Burgundy does not really go for half bottles, except for sampling purposes, as the wines tend to mature too quickly for the more ‘senior’ appellations. With recent smaller vintages 75cl bottlings normally get priority. Also, some wines are already bottled, so we would have to order halves before we knew what sales were going to be. Invariably, with many wines being oversold, we would reduce availability yet further were we to have too many non-75cl.

      Bordeaux is ideally placed because bottling is 8-14 months after the offer. It is possible to reserve a volume and offer different sizes and have them bottled according to what has been sold. So we do have more halves available. That said, demand is low (with exception of Sauternes).

      I hope you find these comments helpful.
      Best wishes,

  2. Guy Dennis says:

    Thanks Ewan. Very kind of you to take the time to reply, and do so comprehensively. I can see the reasons, though it’s a shame. Candidly, I also wish there were more 50cl bottles around, which seem idea for two people with a meal mid-week, especially if the wine is a southern Rhone, Languedoc or other 14%er! I guess there interest in Coravin vindicates this view! Anyway, it seems things are as they are. Perhaps I’ll buy a case of halves of Vieux T next year.

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