01438 741177         thewinesociety.com

The Society's Community

Half bottles vs normal-sized bottles

In some of the en Primeur offers of the Society, I have noticed that when the same wine is offered in normal bottles, or half bottles, the drinking dates are the same for both half and normal bottles. My understanding (no references, just something read or heard) was that the smaller bottles proportionally had more air in the space between cork and liquid, and therefore the wine may be oxidised more, so one would have to drink it earlier i.e. the wine would not last as much. Is it considered, in those offers, that the space between cork and liquid in both bottles is proportionately the same?

1 Like

I don’t think so. I think you’re right - the volume of the liquid compared to air has a material effect on the rate of ageing. The bigger the bottle, the slower the ageing (as far as I understand it), so you would have thought half bottles should have a shorter drinking window. One offer where you can see this is the 2018 port en primeur campaign, the half bottles have a shorter drinking window.


Are bottles of wine airtight until you open the bottle?
Normally we drink a half bottle at a meal and the rest the next day. If we opened a half bottle we would drink it all at one meal. Consequently that would be better?

I don’t think it’s a question of better, just different / changed.

Not always…some wine benefits from a day more…best way with a full bottle is to keep an empty half bottle and use it for the half that’s left, and just keep reusing it. The half bottle that is…


I bought half bottles of Thalabert in the Rhone EP offer this year, and the WS notes in my order now show a slightly earlier beginning and end to the drinking window than the full bottles (2024-35 vs 2026-39). So it seems they do take this into account.

1 Like

Many thanks to all that answered.
As I thought, in my ignorance (oh, yes, my ignorance goes very deep, as I have made clear in my questions to this forum) that determining drinking dates must be more of an art than a science, I always aim to drink the wine at what I call its “middle years” i.e. if the window is 2020-2028 I will try to drink the wine during 2024. I thought that that would be a safe bet. If I apply that rule to Joll’s example, I think it still works, even with the changed window.
And all this because one is getting old, and does not want finish a full bottle during a meal. Rats!
Luckily Coravin was invented…