This article was originally published in autumn 2020.
Though the smaller format has a shorter shelf life, it provides the benefit of maturing faster – and is often the perfect amount.
I am still finding it very hard to wean myself off my lockdown beverage, the half-bottle of wine. I live on my own, and the 375ml is the perfect fit for a middle-aged wine merchant who is reasonably mindful of the temptations that go with an ever-lengthening career in booze. Magnums of tequila might well have offered interesting angles on the various government responses to coronavirus, but probably an unwise shout, all things considered.
I had completely forgotten how much pleasure the smaller format brings to the table. Back in the 1990s, halves were everywhere, offering excellent flexibility, especially in restaurants: ideal for a solo diner or à deux, even
two between three – sommeliers were constantly asking for availabilities of both colours. And supplies were relatively short, as growers only bottled to order.
Then things tailed off: more wines started to be offered by the glass, and recently posh Enomatic machines have come into play enabling a variety of measures to be dispensed while keeping the wine free of oxidation (accountants punched the air in triumph as wastage severely reduced). Even that most dependable of staples, the dessert wine, fell out of favour.