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.

wine glass and corkWines 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.

This is where half bottles of wine come in.

half bottles of sherryAs 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.

PG Half Bottle Wine Reviews

Ladera Verde Chilean Sauvignon Blanc 2014

£3.50 Tanners www.tanners-wines.co.uk

Regional wine merchants have a huge selection of half bottles, and all available for delivery too. This easy-drinking Chilean white tastes of gooseberry and lime.

Tanners Claret

£4.99 Tanners

Tanners own-label Claret (French red from Bordeaux) tastes of plums and blackberries.

Mâcon Chardonnay 2014, France

£6.30 Tanners

Rich and creamy lemoniness.

Chateau Musar 2008, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon

£9.99 Waitrose Cellar

Made from Cabernet Sauvignon, this is Lebanese equivalent of a Bordeaux wine from a named chateau. Expect dark fruits and cake spice flavours.

Elysium Black Muscat 2014, Californian

£10.99 Majestic

A sweet red dessert wine that smells of roses and tastes densely of dark fruit. Match to Black Forest gateaux.

Bollinger Special Cuvee

£22.99 Waitrose Cellar

Champers in half-sized bottles.

This article also appeared as Paula's Wines of the Week on MatureTimes.co.uk

coinsYou may think paying around six quid for a bottle of wine is expensive but to the wine trade this is the cheaper end of the market. Because of both inflation and consumer spending habits the wine producers have found that the under-a-fiver category is no longer worth the time and expense and so if you can remember the time when you could get a decent bottle for under £3.99 then hang on to the memory because there won't be any more. Instead we must look to the £5.99 and under category to find the everyday bottles.

wine groupIt'll be easy celebrating Saint David’s Day tomorrow. Dish out some lamb cutlets and you’re well on your way to a delicious meal and an excuse to open several bottles in hope of finding a wine to match. Because as a young cut of Welsh lamb is neither quite red meat or white it matches both red and white wine equally well, so pacifying the food-wine matching theorists who insist on matching red wine with red meat and white wine with white meat and fish.

fountain penIf being a wine writer is all about ‘tasting vast quantities of wine’, why isn’t everyone doing it? Because as wine writer Geoff Adams explains in his chapter on Wine Journalism (Specialist Journalism, Routledge, £23.49): ‘it can be difficult to commission a sufficient amount of work within this speciality alone to make a good living’. But if that hasn’t put you off, then how do you go about becoming a wine writer?