It’s said that good things come in small packages.
And that can apply to wine as well.
Perhaps when it comes to wine, it might be more accurate to say convenient things come in small packages. Or that the small packages are convenient. And really, both of those observations are true. Let me explain.
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you’d just like one — only one — more glass of wine, but the bottle, or bottles, are empty? You might be on your own, or it might be at the end of a dinner party and you’re the only person craving that last glass to finish off the night. And even though you might have a handy-dandy gizmo like the fabulous VacuVin, which sucks oxygen out of opened bottles of wine and preserves what remains for an extra few days, it just seems silly or indulgent or extravagant to open a whole bottle just for a single glass.
I’ve found the solution.
These have certainly been around for ages, but every day, there seem to be more and more of them available. And they’re really, really handy to have on hand for situations like the ones mentioned above.
I’ve even turned to the mini bottles when I’ve found myself staying at a hotel in Winnipeg, with plans to meet friends for dinner in an hour or so. Sure, I could go down to the hotel lounge or bar, but prices in those locales are often what I consider exorbitant, and in many cases, the wine is so-so at best.
So in that scenario, I’d pay more than I want for wine I didn’t really like, I’d pay tax on what are already hopped-up prices, then I’d tip someone to BRING me the so-so wine at the inflated price!
And I really quite enjoy staying in hotels, as long as they’re quiet and reasonably appointed. So I’d be most content to stay in my room, have a glass of something I like that I bought at Liquor Mart prices, and relax in my own private space.
Since opening a full bottle, even to share with my husband, is still WAY too much before going out for dinner where we’re likely to (oh come on! Who am I kidding? Of COURSE we’re going to) have more wine, the mini bottles are particularly handy in that situation. And again, they’re a great solution to the "I just want one more glass" scenarios I mentioned a few paragraphs back.
Most of the smaller bottles are not high-end wine, unless, of course, you go for something spectacular like real Champagne — for example, the Moet & Chandon Imperial Brut 200 ml bottle that sells for $21.19 (the 750 ml bottle is $61.18). But there are some fairly tasty ones out there.
And since a glass of bubbly, at least in my opinion, is great either as an aperitif or an end-of-night beverage, here are some that are worth trying (or are at least available!).
My favourite of all the mini bottles is the Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut Cava, which is $4.29 for a 200 ml bottle. A 750 ml bottle bottle of the same sells for $14.29, but it’s no surprise that with the extra packaging required, the mini bottles are going to cost a bit more. But the Cordon Negro Brut is refreshing, flavourful and surprisingly robust for the price. Sadly, it’s frequently overlooked by those in search of a decent bubbly, but perhaps by giving a mini bottle of it a shot, people will discover that it’s a bargain for the price, and go for the bigger bottle when the circumstances are appropriate.
I also like the appearance of the Freixenet minis — they look like real bubbly bottles with twist off corks that make the bottles reusable. So because they can be washed and used to store bubbly for the next time (at least for a short time), they’re an even better value in my eyes. And let’s face it — I think they’re cute, too!
I first tried the Henkell Trocken Fine Sekt in Victoria last year, when I went to visit my mother who was wintering there for a couple of months. She had some to welcome me, and knowing that I was arriving late at night, she thought it best not to have a full bottle for us to share just before hitting the sack.
So on spec, she picked up the tiny Henkell Trockens, which come in a three-pack of 200 ml bottles for $10.99. Although definitely off-dry, this was still a very pleasant beverage, and I felt welcomed and spoiled at the same time.
For those who like strawberries and who enjoy their sparklers a whole lot sweeter, a 200 ml container of the Fresita Vina Casal de Gorchs from Chile will set you back $3.99.
And for people who prefer table wine — non-sparkling wine — Billy Rock Station provides just that. Cans that contain 250 mls of Pinot Grigio, Merlot or Shiraz from Australia sell for $3.19 each. And while they’re a smidge on the sweet side, they certainly serve the purpose of a quick, no-waste, more-than-generous glass to suit whatever purpose you need them for.
While I can vouch for the aforementioned wines as described, there are several others I haven’t tried that would be likely to please a variety of tastes. If they do, terrific. If they don’t, well, you’ve only spent $3 or $4, and you’ll know if you want to do so on those particular brands again.
And if you’re uncertain as to whether what you’re looking at is dry, sweet, sparkling, or flat, be sure to check with the always-helpful Liquor Mart staff, who’ll be able to help you pick the mini bottle that’s just right for you.