business news in context, analysis with attitude

Wall Street Journal wine columnist Lettie Teague writes this morning that "retail sales figures released by Nielsen last month show that retail sales of wine in half bottles were up 45.5% in the 4-week period ending Nov. 7 over the same period last year. Full-size bottles saw a 19% increase in the same time period."

There may be a good reason for that:  "Half bottles might be the right size right now. People are drinking alone thanks to pandemic-related restrictions on gathering at restaurants or bars, or at home with friends. And during the holidays, this size suits smaller groups of celebrants too."

Still, she writes, they can be "a conundrum. They offer oenophiles the opportunity to try a wine for much less money—even if, often, half bottles cost more than half the full-bottle price. They can give a preview of a vintage, since wine in half bottles ages more rapidly. (The amount of air trapped between cork and wine is the same in both sizes, so the ratio of air to wine is higher in a half bottle.) This makes half bottles more readily drinkable but less valuable, too, since ageability is a hallmark of a collectible wine."

KC's View:

A half-bottle of wine always strikes me as being sort of like decaf coffee.  What's the point?

But maybe that's the pandemic talking…