CURBING your thirst to appreciate a smaller sip not only has its health benefits but tipplers and singletons can experience a wider range of wines without the guilt of cracking open a full bottle.
With a growing trend for sizing down from 70cl to 37.5cl bottles, wine lovers can show a smidgen of virtuous restraint while still indulging in a really nice vino at an affordable price.
The new year range from Halfwine.com features two dry whites and two healthy reds – ideal for couples who share different tastes or anyone stuck in a wine rut.
To ring in the changes, try Halfwine's New Year Collection (£39.15, four bottles, www.halfwine.com), which includes a fresh, forward sauvignon blanc, Domaine Masson-Blondelet, 2010 Sancerre, Thauvenay, France; a classic steely chablis, William Fevre, 2009 Chablis, France; a Burgundy from the famous winemaking village of Gevrey-Chambertin, Harmand-Geoffroy, 2008 Bourgogne Rouge, France, which is drinking beautifully as half-bottles mature faster than normal size; and a full-bodied, brambly sangiovese, Fontodi 2009 Chianti Classico, Tuscany, Italy.
Another source for handy halves, Laithwaites has a broad range which includes another lovely sauvignon blanc from the Loire Valley. Try the fragrant Abbesse De Loire Sauvignon Blanc Half Bottle 2011, Val de Loire VdP, France (£4.79, www.laithwaites.co.uk) for its crisp, lemony fruit, zesty freshness and attractive minerality.
Despite their popularity, it's not easy to find an extensive range of half-bottles from the New World as most winemakers prefer to size up with a magnum which ages more gracefully and has longer cellaring potential.
However, the French, with their Old World charm, are less likely to shy away from half measures and it’s worth noting that vintage matters, especially with whites which evolve faster in smaller bottles – and the same for champagne.
Half-bottles are a blessing for red wine lovers who don't have the patience to wait for a wine to age, or who fancy a sneak preview of how the flavours will mature, such as the 2009 Bordeaux which has been cited as one of the greatest vintages ever.
To dip into some ripe 2009s, cases of basic claret offer good value, with Chateau La Fleur Coterie 2009, Bordeaux (case of 24 37.5cl halves, £124, www.goedhuis.com/020 7793 7900) drinking well without the chewy tannins you’d find in a full-size version. With smoky blackberry fruit, oak and underlying tannins, this merlot-dominant bottle has lots of fleshy appeal.
YORKSHIRE winemaker’s first blush... Leeds-based Leventhorpe Vineyard has been producing still white wines since 1989, but to celebrate its 10th anniversary of white fizz, the vineyard has released its first sparkling rose.
Leventhorpe Salmon Blush 2010, pictured, (£20, plus £10 delivery, firstname.lastname@example.org) is the latest edition to George Bowden’s portfolio of still and sparkling wines which have been recommended by Jancis Robinson and Oz Clarke. A pretty coral pink with a delicate fruity palate and fresh aromas of citrus and honey, it's a delicious reminder of how we should appreciate English sparkle.