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Reader mail: what are half bottles good for?

half bottle wine Question: What are half bottles good for?

Answer: In the south of France, half bottles are called “bed-wetter bottles” and are frequently chosen by people who don’t want to get up too many times at night. People who choose half bottles also must sit at the kiddie table if there is one.

Okay, I made that up. But you don’t have to just be an optimist thinking that a half a bottle is better than none. Here are five reasons you shouldn’t ignore half bottles:

1. They age faster than big bottles. Normally, this is bad. But if you want to “check in” on how a wine is evolving, pulling a 375ml from your cache is one way to do it.

2. They help people who like different wines but are dining together. She wants red and he wants white? Pop two half bottles at dinner are you are all set.

3. Great “weeknight” size. Sometimes 375ml is all you need for two people anyway.

4. They offer a lower-priced way to access more expensive wines. Don’t get me wrong: they’re not less expensive per ounce. But if you were thinking about getting a $100 bottle and found a 375ml for $60, it’s still less money to try the same juice.

5. You can save them. The empty 375s are great vessels for storing…wait for it… a half a regular bottle. By reducing the amount of oxygen in the bottle, the wine stays fresher longer. Just be sure to pour the reminder of the regular bottle into the half bottle over a sink in case there’s any spillage. And leave enough room for a cork to go back in. NOTE: still wines only!

What’s your take on half bottles–useful or useless?

The most dangerous ways to open a wine bottle [VIDEO]

No corkscrew, no problem for this guy. All you need is a samurai sword, a blowtorch, a golf club, a chainsaw…

Which is your fave? I liked the first one and the “epic win.”

HOW TO: chill wine in five minutes

icebucket
With the northeast suffering through the second vicious heat wave of the month, the question a the forefront of the heat-addled brains of us wine geeks is: how can I chill that wine bottle the fastest?

Fast: Contrary to popular thinking, sticking it in the freezer is not the fastest way to chill wine. There’s simply too much air in the freezer; air doesn’t wick heat away as fast as water.

Faster: Add a gel sleeve to the wine bottle in the freezer. Getting something cold touching the bottle transfers the cold to the wine faster.

Fastest: Get a bucket and fill it about half full of ice. Then add the coldest water you can get from the tap, filling the bucket to about 3/4 full. Now you have something approximating the ice floes of the Arctic–in fact, add salt to the water to decrease the liquid range of the water to below 32 degrees. Submerge the bottle in the bucket. Stir or swirl for fastest results.

Related: “Drew Barrymore: the ladiez like ice in their wine

Champagne fact & fiction

champagne toast flutes Does champagne go to your head faster because of the bubbles?
No, it goes to your head faster because you are on a date.

Does Champagne give you gas?
No. Does Pellegrino?

Is Champagne made from champagne grapes?
No, those are for decoration. The champagne in your glass likely is made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and/or Pinot Meunier grapes.

What’s the best Italian Champagne?
Champagne comes from…the Champagne region! Bubblies from Italy are mostly Prosecco. While both can be fun, they are made differently, taste different, and are priced differently. In the past, I’ve enjoyed the Bisol, “Crede,” prosecco (about $15).

Sweet Champagne gives me a headache. Are there any ones that are not sweet?
Champagne is not naturally sweet–sweetness is added via a shot of something sweet called the “dosage,” placed just before the cork goes in. The trend for the producers of Champagne that wine geeks favor is a throttling back on dosage and you may see wines labeled “zero” or “extra brut” indicating that the amount of residual sugar is below the level of perception. As to those headaches, maybe try taking only one flute as the tray gets passed around at the holiday party?

I don’t have flutes. Can I still have Champagne?
Yes, by all means, use a white wine glass. The bubbles will dissipate sooner but you will likely get better aromatics.

What’s the best way to open Champagne?
Well, the best way bar none is to be like the Japanese bottle slinger. Next best, try to go for the world sabering record in one minute. But if you really want to open a bottle like a pro, see our How to: open a Champagne bottle.

What’s a good Champagne to give?
If you’re looking for a blingy name that people may know, try the “brut Premier” from Roederer (maker of Cristal), about $35. For an artisanal Champagne, try the Camille Saves, Carte Blanche ($45), a blend of mostly pinot noir that makes for a delicious aperitif or companion to a meal. (find these wines at retail)

Needy drunkard reveals uncorking technique sans corkscrew [video]

You know you’ve been there: on the street, desperate for another bottle, being filmed by your friends and without a corkscrew. Okay, maybe not on the street or desperate as with this guy in the video, but definitely without a corkscrew! Here’s a technique that Khrushchev would likely endorse the next time that situation arises! My only question: do you decant before serving? (Thanks, Richard!)

Related: “Forget the saber: try opening champagne with champagne!


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