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Wine expert finds that good things come in small packages

Fri 20 Aug 2010 10:50


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There’s been a real surge in the number of miniature bottles of wine being snapped up by shoppers lately, and it’s no surprise, with the amount of summer picnics, festivals and other outdoor events being staged at the moment.

The convenience of the small bottles is clear for all to see. They’re also great for anyone who only likes to have an occasional tipple, as they don’t need to open a whole bottle of wine to enjoy just one or two glasses.

The common sizes for miniatures is 18.7cls, which amounts to around one-and-a-half standard glasses, and 25cls, which is around two standard glasses.

However during his investigation into the increased popularity of these little bottles of wine, The Hour’s wine expert Tom Cannavan has found that they are often left sitting on the shelf for a year or more, and aren’t as fresh as the same wine you’d buy in a full-size bottle. His advice, therefore, is to opt for the younger vintages.

Another thing Tom noted was that people pay a premium for the convenience of many of the miniatures. For example, the mini-bottle of the Sainsbury’s Shiraz that Tom looked at for this feature cost £1.64, while the big bottle costs only £3.99. This means it would work out at £6.56 for a full size bottle of this wine, if it was being made up using miniatures.

However, the benefits seem to be outweighing the negatives of these handy little bottles and they continue to fly on the supermarket shelves. If you’d like to get some miniatures but don’t know where to start, her are the wine connoisseur’s favourite selections.

1. Tesco Light Choices California Chardonnay, USA, priced at £1.79 from Tesco for a 18.7cl bottle
The alcohol in this wine has been adjusted using state of art technology down to just 8 per cent. It is also being marketed to the weight conscious, as it proudly declares only 94 calories on the bottle - less than in a Milky Way chocolate bar for a big glass of wine!

 It may not be the best Chardonnay on the shelves, but it is actually a decent drop for the dieter who fancies a solo glass. With flavours of melon, apples and vanilla, this particular wine is perfect as an aperitif or to accompany dishes such as chicken salad.

2. Las Falleras, Rosé 2009, Spain, £1.99 from Marks & Spencer for a 25cl bottle
M&S have put all 19 of their mini-sized wines into high-quality plastic bottles that look very much like the real thing. That's great news for the environment as the same size glass bottles would weigh 85 per cent more, so transporting them would create much higher Co2 emissions.

This is a lovely Spanish rosé made from a local grape called Bobal, which is sweetly fruity but with a dry finish. With lovely, fruity flavours of pomegranates, redcurrants and oranges, this rosé matches up really well with salads, cold poached salmon or prawn cocktails.

3. Sainsbury's, Australian Shiraz, £1.64 from Sainsbury's for a 18.7cl bottle
Sainsbury's stocks this in normal bottle sizes and in a three-litre box, so you are not stuck for choices. It's a non-vintage wine, but shows typical Aussie Shiraz character with spice and a certain eucalyptus-quality on the nose, but a big, bold and mouth-filling style.

Tasting cues of blackberries, plums, and cloves make this a perfect match for grilled or barbecued meats, chilli con carne or meatloaf.

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