Grapevine Archive for Half bottles
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.
I 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!
The Tuesday night glass of wine need not be a starter for ten.
Too many times in the past I have opened a bottle of an evening to share with my girlfriend, only to be left with a half-full bottle that requires a decision I felt unable to make for the best!
A suitably sized solution is at hand! My colleague Martin Brown also wrote in praise of the half bottle on this blog some years ago, and the message is still the same.
The Society’s halves allow a midweek measure of one’s favourite tipple. The flexibility these halves afford are well known with regards to sweet dessert wines, but with a range that includes sherry and Champagne, our selection enables anyone to do things in half measures and not be chastised for it!
Not only that, but also, at more indulgent times of the week, they present an ideal opportunity for matching wine with food courses.
Indeed, a belated Valentines meal allowed me to do just that: a half bottle of Cassis, Clos Val Bruyère, Château Barbanau complemented my garlic prawns (and stood up admirably to the hint of chilli), before a half of Jaboulet’s Ventoux Les Traverses, whose ripe grenache fruit provided the perfect fruit for pigeon breasts pan fried with butter. My treacle tart and modest cheeseboard was then served with a stunning half bottle of Williams & Humbert As You Like It Amontillado.
My only regret was not having a half bottle of The Society’s Champagne to start!
The Cellar Showroom
Wine is a beverage that holds no appeal for my teetotal fiancée, meaning I tend to find myself the sole imbiber when at home. Of course, the half bottle seemed the obvious solution, though I confess it took longer than it should for me to embrace the logic. Irrational first impressions, alas, do count, and while the thickness of a magnum can make it appear lavishly more than two bottles’ worth, a humble 375cl half looks rather diminutive next to a regular bottle.
My feelings began to change last year upon noticing a well-priced half of a favourite Tuscan red on a restaurant list. Finding the amount therein just right, I remember leaving sated and, well, remembering leaving. Though most of the wine at home remains in 75cl bottles, the experience made me realise I have been guilty of overlooking the handiness and enjoyment that the half bottle affords.
In my view, the greatest asset the half possesses is that it is a reliable guard against the domestic phenomenon of ‘wine fatigue.’ Unless the wine is truly something, having drunk a couple of glasses from a regular bottle one night and another the following evening, I simply tend to crave something different by night three.
Fatigue leads to indignation at the remaining dregs: Why should I have to drink you yet again? Opting for a half therefore makes me feel at greater liberty to experiment. The range of wines bottled in halves affords choice as well as convenience, so one can try a good deal of wines in quantities more conducive to a ‘tasting.’
As well as everyday favourites for instance, I now find myself lured by halves of Bordeaux, Barolo and more; the good thing being that these more serious and structured wines mature a little faster in a smaller bottle.
Yet whether it’s a couple of glasses at home or a relaxing picnic without being stalked by thoughts of Breathalysers, it just feels rather nice enjoying wine from a smaller bottle. For all the above, the half is greater than the sum of its parts.