Bigger is better. At least, that was what I learned growing up in the country farms turned ‘burbs of Wisconsin, where every other mom drove an SUV and weekends often involved a trip to Sam’s Club for behemoth tubs of cheese puffs and frozen lasagna. Little did I know that my life would see the full spectrum–from Jumbo packs of processed food to the current locavore fanaticism that has consumed culture. When I was young, my options were red, yellow or green when it came to which apple I wanted in my lunch. Now, I can choose from Jazz, Pink Lady, Honeycrisp or Gala. To know the difference isn’t so much an art as it is an expectation. Bulk items no longer refer to 20 pack bundles of Ramen; they now involve pretty plastic bins of nuts, grains and flour in hopes to reduce waste.
Out of habit, my first years of college had me reaching for a huge cart at the store, as though I were feeding an army. But with time, and a stint living in New York City, I slowly changed my ways, as did the world around me, it seemed. Hand baskets became vogue, as did shopping only for what you needed for the next 48 hours. Fresh, local and artisinal is the way now. And while it is certainly healthier, it seems, my pocketbook is happier, too. I don’t waste so much in the pantry waiting for the next Depression.
This got me thinking about wine. How often, like me, do you find yourself pouring excess wine down the drain. At once berating yourself for the vino abuse, whilst simultaneously a little proud your restraint has resulted in less fuzzy morning conditions? Or perhaps it is merely a reflection of the A.D.D. we all seem to share these days thanks to the internet, HD TV and video games, resulting in several half-opened wines due to a certain meal, mood or time of day. Whatever the reason, I hate knowing that wine was wasted.
That’s why I am growing more fond of the half-bottle. These 375 ml of goodness are perfect for so many reasons. My love for them really began in New York. People might grab a half of bubbles just to start out a celebration without a full commitment to a bottle. Maybe it was for a quick slurp in the cab ride on the way to an event. Others just needed a dab for a dish as they sipped on the rest while cooking.
When I am by myself for dinner, it forces me to not even think about going beyond 2 glasses–a decision that will undoubtedly have me waking up at 3 in the morning like clockwork (what the heck? early onset menopause?). Or, when I am with my guy, we can have a first course with white and our main course with red. It allows real geeks to try a couple wines with a dish just to see how different varietals pair.
Another great reason for buying half bottles, you can taste a wine that might typically cost you a day’s pay at nearly half the price. This is an excellent way to try Burgundies, Bordeaux and Barolos from a variety of subregions and producers that would otherwise be extremely difficult to afford with any regularity. With Christmas dinner, for example, we had a 2000 Lopez de Heredia Tondonia Reserva for only $25 (regularly $45 for the 750 ml) just to have another option on the table that was interesting with goose. It showed deepened notes of caramelization, sandalwood and cherry tobacco.
Getting impatient for that 07 Chateauneuf du Pape? Grab a half bottle. They age faster and are starting to drink beautifully. I just had a Lucien Barrot CdP for only $15 that was outstanding for the dollar! Same with the 07 rhone style Cigare Volant by Bonny Doon–an absolute gem right now in the half. The full is damn fine…but a baby. Friends don’t let friends commit infanticide.
There are dozens of other reasons a half is ideal: picnics, camping, stocking stuffers, they are cute, great candle holders, perfect for olive oils, homemade dressings and balsamic. 375’s are a great way to explore a world of wine and half the price.
At my shop, here is a short list of what you can stock up on. For the months of February & March, resolve to learn more via 375s at 5% off a cute little bottle. Build a little 6 pack, and you will get 10% off!
2009 Perez Cruz Cabernet (Chile)- $7
2009 Roger Champault Sancerre (France)- $14
2002 Lopez de Heredia Cubillo Rioja (Spain)- $18
2007 Lucien Barrot Chateauneuf du Pape (France)- $15
2010 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand)- $9
2010 Alberti 154 Malbec (Argentina)- $9
2007 Bonny Doon Cigare Volant (California)- $21
2007 Cargisacchi Pinot Noir (California)- $20
2008 Hitching Post Pinot Noir (California)- $20
NV Chartogne-Taillet Champagne 1er Cru (France)- $29
NV Gruet Rose & Blancs des Noirs (New Mexico)- $9
2008 Hurricane Ridge Merlot (Washington)-$13
2008 Selbach-Oster Riesling Kabinett (Germany)- $14
2008 Raspail Ay Gigondas (France)- $20