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Half-bottle a solution to Valentine wine issue
NAPA, Calif. -- You like red and the love of your life likes white? No need to compromise for love this Valentine's Day.
Picking one of the many half-sized bottles of wine available can make everyone happy -- and even make pairing with food easier. It might even save you a few bucks, too.
Because maybe you want to pair white with the appetizer and red with the entree. Or, perhaps, you're ready to splash out on something serious like Chateau Latour, around $600 a bottle, and you'd rather get the half bottle for a mere $300.
OK, maybe not. But you could.
A surprising number of big-name wines are available in half bottles, including Opus One and Araujo Estate Wine, a wine so popular it's known as a "cult" wine.
Paul Mekis, wine director at Madera in Menlo Park, south of San Francisco, thinks half-bottles are "fantastic," and carries a wide selection on his wine list.
At the Judd's Hill Winery in Napa, vintner Judd Finkelstein also is a fan. The winery is bringing out their "Founder's Art," a 2006 reserve Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon in half-bottles for the first time this year. "Founder's Art" is named in honor of Finkelstein's late father, Napa Valley pioneer Art Finkelstein. The label features a picture by Art Finkelstein, who true to his name, was a painter.
"It's been popular and it's a delicious wine and now it's available in half-bottles," Finkelstein said.
He also sees half-bottles as the answer for couples where one drinks wine and the other doesn't.
On the other hand, if both parties enjoy wine "and are feeling adventurous, they can open a couple of different half-bottles and have that adventure together," he said.
Also targeted to Cupid's big night, the La Crema winery in Sonoma County is selling special two-bottle packs-- a 375-milliliter chardonnay paired with the same-size in pinot noir.
"It's a lovely way to bring together the red wine and white wine drinkers of the world," La Crema winemaker Elizabeth Grant-Douglas said. Or, if you're have a multicourse dinner with different wines, it's a way to bridge that gap, too.
Some critics don't think the half-bottle format has the longevity of the full-size bottle, but Grant-Douglas hasn't noticed any deleterious effects.
The La Crema bottles are sealed with screw caps, which are essentially impermeable, keeping oxygen out.
And, of course, half-bottles are meant to be drunk, not aged.
For the restaurant scene, Valentine's Day means an evening of two-tops, the industry term for dining a deux.
"It's not the business-type people that are coming in. It's a romantic evening," says Mekis. "They spend a little bit more time with each other, talking with each other, flirting with each other. We sell way more champagne than anything, for sure."
Much of it in half bottles.