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375's vs. 750's

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Jenise

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375's vs. 750's

by Jenise » Wed Apr 19, 2006 4:32 pm

Is there a thumbnail generalization about the faster rate of maturity in a half bottle vs. a 750? In other words, on a maturing curve, are 375's presumed to be something like, say, three years ahead of a 750? Or four? Or six? I would presume a sommelier would have some kind of number in their head as they stock wines for wines lists, but I've never heard what that is.
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Bob Cohen

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Re: 375's vs. 750's

by Bob Cohen » Wed Apr 19, 2006 5:19 pm

Looks like we need something like Dog Years for wine. And a suitable reduction curve for magnums, etc.
--Bob
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Re: 375's vs. 750's

by Jenise » Wed Apr 19, 2006 5:32 pm

Dog years

Actually, friends and I have developed such a system for discussing the wines they own which were collected variously at two homes, one in Houston TX where wines were passively stored and the other just north of Los Angeles where they now live full time. As you might guess, one Houston year equals about three California years.
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Bob Ross

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Re: 375's vs. 750's

by Bob Ross » Wed Apr 19, 2006 7:18 pm

My belief is that it's almost impossible to generalize, Jenise. My experience is that half bottles are treated very casually in retail outlets, on counters, etc.

Just watching bottling lines, it also seemed to me that the equipment for full bottles was more accurate, that less air would be introduced, etc.

In any event, I love half bottles, but have basically stopped buying them in stores. Instead, I buy full bottles, and make my own half bottles. The quality is much higher now.

(We usually carry about two half bottles for each three days of a trip, just to be sure we'll have something nice to drink if all else fails. I also like carrying a half on a long hike, ten hours or longer. A great break at the half way point, and easy enough to bring back home if the hiking is superb.)


I hope folks will have a better answer than my personal experience to go on. But if I buy a half, I drink it immediately.

Regards, Bob
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Re: 375's vs. 750's

by Bill Spohn » Wed Apr 19, 2006 9:16 pm

I have a tasting scheduled for some time this summer that will address this issue.

I will serve a mature wine, 1990 Castello Banfi Brunello, out of half, single and magnum, to see what differences there may be.

Jenise may get to be an objective referee.......
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Re: 375's vs. 750's

by David M. Bueker » Wed Apr 19, 2006 9:34 pm

A little bit of a wild card here in that I find more heat/storage damage in 375s than 750s. Perhaps because they are 1/2 bottles, shops are not as interested in properly caring for them.

At good shops where they move quickly I think this is not an issue, but I will now only buy 375s from place like Table & Vine, Zachys and Premier Cru.
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Re: 375's vs. 750's

by Ian Sutton » Thu Apr 20, 2006 5:40 am

The thumbnail generalisation I've seen argued most often is Magnums having a 50% longer drinking window than normal bottles.

Extrapolating this down to halves, you might guess at ordinary bottles having 50% longer window than halves (i.e halves have 100/150 = 2/3 the drinking window of normal bottles).

On this basis, a wine that typically peaks at 12 years from vintage, would have the magnum peaking at 18 years and the half at 8 years.

FWIW I've personally thought this generalisation a little extreme in it's differences, but I have no great personal evidence to go on to contradict it.

I like halves. Partly because we struggle to drink a whole bottle between two of us, but also because our wine cabinet must have been a german design and won't fit bordeaux bottles side by side, hence we use halves as spacers!

regards

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Re: Bigger is better.

by Jenise » Thu Apr 20, 2006 12:34 pm

Ian--that's exactly the kind of generalization I was looking for. I know it ultimately always depends on the wine, but it's good to have some assumptions in place for when those smaller bottles are going to be ready, and I really didn't have a gauge for some small bottles I've purchased recently.

David B--you make an excellent point about the extra sensitivity to provenance, I hadn't taken that into consideration until you mentioned it. HMMMM....

Bob Ross--you actually buy new bottles, then divide them into smaller bottles for further aging, or do you just divide the bottle thinking you'll drink half today, and the other in a few weeks?
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Re: Bigger is better.

by Bill Spohn » Thu Apr 20, 2006 5:43 pm

John D. Zuccarino wrote: Or maybe you can explain for us all what the large captioned lettering was used for ?


I assume you are talking about capital letters, which aren't actually larger - they are the same size, horizontally, but are useful as emphasis to make sure that even the thickest of readers gets the point.

Seems to have worked.
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Re: Bigger is better.

by Jenise » Thu Apr 20, 2006 6:01 pm

Hey, Bill, I want to be at that tasting. Did you buy all three more or less at the same time in anticipation of hosting just such a comparison?
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Re: Bigger is better.

by Bill Spohn » Thu Apr 20, 2006 6:12 pm

I have both bottles and magnums and George has halfs.

Should be interesting. I'm sure attendance can be negotiated - the organiser is open to bribes of food......
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Re: Bigger is better.

by Jenise » Thu Apr 20, 2006 6:15 pm

I'm sure attendance can be negotiated - the organiser is open to bribes of food......


Consider yourself bribed. Got food, will travel. :)
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Re: 375's vs. 750's

by Dale Williams » Thu Apr 20, 2006 8:41 pm

Ian Sutton wrote:The thumbnail generalisation I've seen argued most often is Magnums having a 50% longer drinking window than normal bottles. Extrapolating this down to halves, you might guess at ordinary bottles having 50% longer window than halves (i.e halves have 100/150 = 2/3 the drinking window of normal bottles).
FWIW I've personally thought this generalisation a little extreme in it's differences, but I have no great personal evidence to go on to contradict it.


Ian,
I agree that seems a little extreme. I'd say 25-35% difference longer for magnums seems more accurate, extrapolating to 375s drinking window being maybe 3/4s or so of 750s. But like you, I'm working on limited anecdotal evidence.

As noted, older half-bottles of wine might have provenance issues, especially as they are not the size of choice of collectors. Older halves might well have been bought at a restaurant bankruptcy auction, for instance. Still, I occasionally take flyers on older halves, and have had surprisingly good results with '83 Beausejour Becot, '91 Ridge York Creek CS, '78 Lascombes, and other bottles where survival in 750s wasn't a slam-dunk.

I like halves. They're great for a romantic dinner for two with differing needs for main and appetizer, they're perfect for nights Betsy works (she'll usually have maybe a 2-3 oz pour), leaving me with 2 generous glasses. I wish selection was better. I also regret that sometimes the pricing is such that it seems stupid to buy a half ($14 375, $19 750, even if I dump a third I'm ok with bigger bottle).

Oh yeah, and I buy 90% of my dessert wines in halves.
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Re: Bigger is better.

by Bob Ross » Thu Apr 20, 2006 9:17 pm

"Bob Ross--you actually buy new bottles, then divide them into smaller bottles for further aging, or do you just divide the bottle thinking you'll drink half today, and the other in a few weeks?"

We divide full bottles for two different reasons.

Almost every day, when Janet isn't sharing wine with me. I open a bottle, immediately pour half into a half bottle, and put the half in the fridge. Drink the remainder. Open the half bottle usually the next night or within a couple of weeks. Some of the bigger wines -- California cabs and syrahs, Aussie Shiraz -- I don't bother -- just keep them in the 750 until we consume them. (I like keeping the Aussies on the kitchen counter -- every kitchen I saw in the Barossa four years ago had two or three half filled bottles on the kitchen counters, and that was in January.)

Before trips, we fill two or four half bottles with wine and carry it on the plane or in the car. Screw caps only for ease of opening.

Otherwise, we buy half bottles to try something new, and consume it very quickly after purchase.

We do buy a fair number of half bottles of port and sweet wines -- they seem to age a bit quicker, and we've never found the same bottle variation in them as we do with table wines.

Regards, Bob

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