Half the quantity, double the enjoyment: Richard Esling February 3

Half bottles can be a very convenient size, particularly at the moment.

Half bottles for Valentines SUS-210102-151400001
Half bottles for Valentines SUS-210102-151400001

With restaurants closed, our choices for celebrating various events are, to say the least, somewhat curtailed. The ‘home restaurant’ is about all we are left with, but with a little forethought, can be a greatly enjoyable experience. Prepare a tasty meal with a scrumptious dessert, light the candles, change out of the jeans you have been wearing for the last month and dine ‘chez vous’!

Rather than choosing just one bottle of wine for the evening, half bottles give more possibility of pairing wines with different dishes in the same meal and having a different wine for the aperitif. Double the enjoyment.

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, now is the time to order a selection of halves for a cosy and intimate night in. The great and fabulous Wine Society has a selection of over 50 different half bottles, enough choice to suit all palates and all pockets, from the Society’s claret at £4.50 to a half-bottle of Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Beerenauslese Joh Jos Prüm 1999 – a mouthful in more ways than one and an impressive £200 per half bottle!

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    With time to get your order delivered before February 14 arrives, choosing a selection of half bottles can perhaps be another way of showing just how much you care for your partner Valentine. And for those forced to celebrate on their own, a half bottle of delicious wine can be cheering on a cold, grey February day. I have chosen three from the Society’s collection, designed for an indulgent Valentine’s Day in lockdown and beyond.

    To kick things off in style, whilst also supporting our home-grown wine industry, a chilled glass of Nyetimber Classic Cuvée hits the spot. The pioneering Nyetimber was the first producer of English sparkling wine to exclusively use the three grape varieties grown for champagne production – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. After over 30 years, Nyetimber is not only one of the best English sparkling wines, but a rival to many quality sparklers from around the globe, evidenced by a plethora of international awards. A very smart sparkling wine, with great complexity and depth of flavour, with hints of toasted, buttered brioche, cinnamon and lemon. £19 for a half bottle.

    Chateau Bel Air Perponcher Réserve Bordeaux Blanc 2019 is a fabulously fresh, aromatic unoaked white from the Bordeaux vineyards between the Dordogne and Garonne rivers. Made from a blend of Sauvignon and Semillon with a little Muscadelle, the citrus and tropical notes complement the crisp, refreshing acidity. A perfect match for fish pie, roasted prawns or salmon pasta. £5.95 per half.

    My red choice is from one of the top producers in the Rhone Valley – E. Guigal. Straightforward Cotes du Rhone, but by no means ordinary. Coming from the southern part of the region, Cotes du Rhone Rouge Guigal 2017 is a class act, from an enormously experienced producer. The tasting note from The Wine Society says it all: Exudes class, richness, and concentration of flavour, from an outstanding Rhône vintage. Full-bodied, richly textured, ripe and long with more than a hint of spice. Pair with sage and onion stuffed roast chicken, honey glazed duck breast, Cumberland pork sausages or freshly baked steak and kidney pie. Half bottle £6.50.