Half-sized bottles of wine

half bottles 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.

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More red wine please

DaLuca redRed wine is rich in chemicals called polyphenols. Research has shown that these compounds expand your blood vessels, reducing blood pressure and making it easier for blood to flow. They also fight hardening of your arteries, the major contributor to heart disease. Get polyphenols into your body and your heart will be happier.

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Screwcaps on wine bottles

screwcapped bottleScrewcaps make getting into a bottle of wine so easy that you wonder why some producers still stopper their products with small pieces of oak tree bark whose primary goal seems to be getting in the way of enjoying wine.

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Home tastings with my free record sheet

tongueIf these weekly columns have inspired you to organise your own wine tasting at home, then you'll need to get some kit together. Buy yourself some large wine glasses (cheap supermarket ones will do) for capturing any wine aromas released when the wine is swirled prior to sniffing and tasting. And to help you keep track of all the wines you taste why not use my free wine tasting sheet available from here.

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Valentine's fizz

heart shaped wine glassSchmoozing with booze this Valentine's Day is a sure-fire way of turning your loved one's knees to jelly. Start by whipping out a bottle of vintage Dom Perignon chilled to 38 degrees Fahrenheit from the fridge, open it (without taking your eye out with the flying cork) before pouring it into elegant champagne flutes.

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Italian wine categories

Italian flagItaly is the world's largest producer of wine, producing 65 million bottles of it every year. And as about 4.5 million of these are exported to the UK then the chances of coming across an Italian wine in a restaurant, supermarket or garage forecourt shop are extremely high. So it makes sense to understand what you’re getting before deciding to buy one of the multi-million number of bottles available. And the easiest way to do that is to read the wine label.

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Popping round the shops

SPAR MalbecThere's no wine in the house and with only ten minutes to go before the food is ready what can you do? Buying the meal-matching wine from the local village shop or corner convenience store is the best strategy when time is limited.

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Sweet-sour wines for Chinese New Year

Chinese takeaway signReceived wisdom says the naturally sweet-sour flavours of German white wines work best with Chinese food. Which helps with the food-wine matching for this Saturday’s celebration of the Chinese New Year, but really any wine you like will match, but a bit of sweetness helps.

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Eat, drink and be merry

wine glasses on tableAre healthy shoppers also savvy shoppers? American research group NMI thinks so. Their consumer survey shows that if we’re careful with our bodies we’re also careful with our budgets. Categorising shoppers into five distinct types, the healthiest ‘Well Being’ shoppers make few impulse buys, while the ‘Eat, Drink and Be Merrys’ are more concerned with pizza than exercise. But surprisingly this unhealthy group of shoppers doesn’t spend any more on alcohol than the rest of us.

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