Plus: Top Half-Bottle Sources
My former brother-in-law is a big half-bottle man—an oxymoronic phrase, I know, like “jumbo shrimp” and “freezer burn.” But his dedication to half-bottles is truly outsize. “They’re the perfect size for my wife and me to each have a glass,” he explains. My friend Scott Manlin, another half-bottle fan, owns about 75 of them. “They’re ideal for when you want a little bit more than a single full bottle,” he says (thereby disproving the notion that temperance is key to the half-bottle’s appeal). I’ve never purchased a half-bottle except in a restaurant, and even then it felt like a compromise, as if I couldn’t make a full commitment to a wine. Yet, as everything in the world gets smaller, from cell phones to hedge funds, I’ve been thinking about downsizing my bottles as well.
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- Champagne’s Consolation
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A half-bottle of wine is appealing for several reasons. It’s easily portable and eminently practical; there’s rarely anything left over to save or pour out. But there are drawbacks, to be sure, starting with the fact that wine in half-bottles ages faster, due to a greater ratio of air to wine. (The greater a wine’s exposure to oxygen, the more rapidly it ages.) Champagne in half-bottles seems to age at a particularly high rate of speed. I said as much to Olivier Krug, director of Krug Champagne, and he didn’t disagree. In fact, he said, that was why Krug didn’t sell its rosé Champagne in half-bottles until very recently. He believes some other producers even “put different wines in their half-bottles than their full ones,” though he wouldn’t give me names.