Halfwine News

News from around the world of wine... and our take on it. 

Damp February

Whether or not you decided to take part in Dry January, Damp February can be a smart way to manage your alcohol consumption and become more mindful about your drinking habits, with halfwine.com as your greatest ally. Not only does a half bottle help you manage quantity, but the wine itself has health benefits too (see various other news reports below); if you want to go the extra mile look out for wines with a lower alcohol by volume, of which we have a large selection here as well as an easy Low Alcohol Dozen here. And when in doubt, drink bubbly - it's usually only 12 to 12.5% ABV.

Vintage charts

Vintage chart

When it comes to knowing which wines to buy and whether to drink now or put down for later, vintage charts are a valuable ally. Taking account of the growing conditions in each region, they give an indication of the general wine quality for every year, as well as provide a guide to whether a vintage is ready for drinking or would improve with additional cellaring. Keep in mind though that half bottles age more quickly, so you can drink them a little sooner than what the guides recommend for a full bottle.

Most of the wine education and review sites provide a version (Wine Spectator, Robert Parker, Jeb Dunnick, Jancis Robinson) but we find the Wine Enthusiast chart particularly helpful, especially their downloadable PDF version. We also love The Wine Society's condensed chart which you can download and print here: Vintage Cheat Sheet. We recommend keeping it handy for selecting from a restaurant's wine list.

Drink guidelines

While Canada’s New Guidelines for Alcohol Say ‘No Amount’ Is Healthy and they recommend limiting consumption to just two drinks per week (or as little as one can possibly manage), don't half bottles seem like an even better idea? We find that many nights a half of a half (still a generous 6oz glass) is perfect for sipping with dinner. And the NHS guidelines allow for three half bottles a week (14 units of alcohol per week, spread across 3 days or more).

And more drink guidelines

Scientists can't seem to agree on the best approach to alcohol consumption: another new study suggests that Moderate Drinkers Live as Long as Abstainers. But it does seem clear that moderation is key, and half bottles are perfect for that!

Better than a sleeping pill

In her article Port, the Perfect Nightcap wine guru Jancis Robinson recommends our Quinta Do Noval NV 20 Year Old Tawny Porto, as well as the Taylor's Single Quinta Vintage Port that is part of our rather lovely Port Tasting Pack.

Wine and chocolate

Wine and chocolate pairings

Italian gourmet market Eataly has published a handy guide to help you pair wine with your favourite chocolate (or chocolate with your favourite wine): How to Pair Wine and Chocolate, and there's more advice here from The Spruce Eats.

Eco-friendly picnics

We love this little guide on How to Have an Eco-Friendly Picnic, from picking your meal to serving it; setting the scene; and even how best to get it all there. Yasmin suggests that rather than plastic drink bottles, you buy glass (we have plenty of those!) and also recommends organic wines (we have those too). We think wines in easy-open screwcaps and cans are particularly well-suited to picnics, especially cans which are light to carry and quick to chill. Cheers!

Vegan wine and food pairings

Wine Enthusiast magazine recently published an article How Pros Pair Wine with Plant-Based Proteins on vegan wines (we have a great selection here at halfwine.com) and how to pair them with meat substitutes.

Impossible Whopper - or McPlant burger - and a juicy vegan Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages, anyone?

Health news

Even more good news for women who enjoy a glass or two of red wine! Wine Spectator reports that the anti-inflammatory resveratrol - plentiful in red wines and potentially helpful with everything from depression to diabetes to cancer - may also be effective as a treatment for endometriosis (Red Wine Compound Offers Potential Treatment for Endometriosis).

Guide to choosing wines

We love this guide to selecting wine that we were sent by the digital magazine, Psyche: How to choose a bottle of wine.

It offers some good ideas for wine tastings that focus on various forms of a single grape variety; halfwine.com has tasting packs that compare the author's recommended Sauvignon Blanc, and Cabernet or Shiraz, as well as several other combinations here. Or, browse our individual half bottles by varietal to build your own.

The author also recommends five wines that are easy to like and that taste distinctive, as a great way to get started:
Prosecco from Italy
- try our San Simone Prosecchino Frizzante Prosecco
Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand
- try our Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc
Gewurztraminer from Alsace, France
- try our Bott Frères Gewurztraminer
Barossa Shiraz from Australia
- try our Dandelion Vineyards "Lionheart of the Barossa" Shiraz
Fleurie from Beaujolais, France
- try our Jules du Souzy Fleurie

We suggest rounding these out to a six-pack with a wine from South Africa, either an unoaked Chardonnay (De Wetshof "Bon Vallon" Chardonnay) or a Cabernet-based red blend (Rustenberg John X Merriman).

Another way to find wines you'll love is by browsing our Wine Style Finder or our Find My Style tasting packs.

Smell training

Incidentally, the Psyche guide's paragraph about educating your senses put us in mind of this piece in The Telegraph about scent training for COVID sufferers who've lost their sense of smell: Four months on from Covid, and everything still smells like almonds. "When you have no way of getting smell messages up to your brain by sniffing, the training helps to send messages into the bulb from the top down. 'It’s like if you were in a restaurant and the steward tells you the wine has blackcurrant notes, when you sip the wine you’re prepared to think you get the blackcurrants,' she says."

Trend report: virtual wine tastings

halfwine.com's Kevin popped up in an article about virtual wine tastings: How virtual wine tasting became 2020's hottest drinks trend. Visit our Virtual Tastings page for tips from Kevin on how to host one yourself, and find our curated tasting packs and video guides here.

Wine entanglement

We also enjoyed Psyche's There is more to the experience of wine than its taste alone. "Let’s consider wine not an object to be measured but an encounter to be experienced... Wine is never just itself. It is I who encounter it with you, within our surroundings in which all the things of the world are flowing. When we say: ‘I liked this wine more today than last time,’ what we’re saying is not that ‘the wine’ has changed but that the entanglement has changed – and that we have changed with the wine."

At Halfwine we've always believed that the kindest way to tell a winemaker you don't much like their offering is to say, "The wine is not to my taste today." 😉

Too much champagne?

Finally, a Mark Twain quote we saw the other day: "Too much of anything is bad, but too much champagne is just right."


Check back often: whether it's research findings (People Who Drink Half Bottle of Wine a Day Are Healthier, Study Finds; How Drinking Champagne May Prevent Alzheimer's; Is Red Wine Good for You?), lifestyle pieces (The Many Faces of the ‘Wine Mom’ and Petrus revealed as Bordeaux wine aged in space), or wine industry news (Fizz in the Family: Female-Run Champagne Houses and How Did 2020's Wildfires Impact California Wine?) if we found it interesting, you'll find it here.