half bottles of champagneHalf bottles of wine at half the cost? Not necessarily so, unfortunately. Because so few vineyards put their wines in 375ml bottles the price of this handy single-sized portion never gets lowered by mass production and so remains at about two-thirds the price of its 750ml equivalent. But half bottles aren’t all bad – they do allow you to assess the maturing potential of many wines without the risk and all the cost.

Wines that contain a lot of tannin, such as red wines and ports, need to be left undrunk to mature for several years so that their mouth-puckering taste matures into smooth fruitiness.

Well that’s the theory. Not all highly tannic wines mature at the same rate and some never even mature into anything worthwhile.

And then there are white wines. These also benefit with a year or two’s rest, particularly ones from France and Spain, where traditional winemaking practices cause wines to mature much more slowly than those made with modern methods such as those used in Australia and America.

miniaturesThis is where half bottles of wine come in.

As half bottles age at about twice the rate of full bottles (due to the higher ratio of oxygen to wine inside the bottle and their inability to maintain a steady temperature because of their lack of bulk) this means the wine inside reaches its peak of tastiness earlier. So half bottles give you an idea of what the same full bottle of wine will taste like in several years time. Allowing you to buy more full bottles of the ones you like and not wasting money on those you don’t.

Buying and reviewing a case of half bottles will still cost some money but not as half as much as investing in full bottles of the same stuff that you’re only guessing will taste fab in five years time.

So if half bottles are such a rarity where can you get them? halfwine.com that’s where. This new kid on the wine block sells just half bottles starting at £4.95.

PG Wine Reviews Everyday Wine Half Bottle Case from halfwine.com

halfwines’s Everyday case contains 6 half bottles for £31 (equivalent of £5.20 each)

bottlesCabert Pinot Grigio 2010, Friuli Italy

Aromas of banana, melon and pear leap out of the half bottle as soon as it’s opened followed by flavours of coconut, apple and melon. The result is creamy and crisp flavours at the same time. Quaffable.

Tyrell’s Chardonnay 2009, Hunter Valley Australia

Complex stuff: cream and Cheshire cheese flavours initially followed by peach and banana, ending with celery dryness.

Chateau Gaillard Touraine Sauvignon Blanc 2010, France

Tastes like you’re sucking on a 50p piece with some celery and parsley thrown in. There is some melon fruitiness to balance things.

Bourgogne Nicolas Potel Pinot Noir 2010, Nuits-Saint George France

A light-bodied traditional French Pinot Noir – sloe, choc and liquorice flavours.

Chateau Gaillard Touraine Gamay 2009, France

Light cherry, damson and sloe with a cocoa edge.

Tyrell’s Old Winery Cabernet Merlot 2008, Western Australia

Black Forest gateau and blackberry jam, plus gravy and burnt meat flavours. Rather disjointed.