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Dr. Vinny,

Do 375ml half-bottles mature more quickly than standard 750ml bottles? If so, is there a formula for converting drinking window recommendations from standard to half-bottle?


Dear Tom,

I’m a huge fan of half-bottles. I like to order them in restaurants, and I wish that more retailers carried them.

You’re correct that conventional wisdom holds that smaller bottles will mature more quickly than larger bottles. That's because the ratio of ullage (the empty space inside the bottle between the wine and the cork) to wine is largest in small bottles: The amount of air inside an unopened bottle of wine tends to be about the same regardless of the size of the bottle, so the smaller the bottle, the greater the impact that the oxygen inside will have on the wine, and oxygen is a key factor in wine development and maturation.

Wine Spectator's drink recommendations are provided for standard 750ml bottles, but these recommendations can still be useful no matter the size of the bottle in your cellar. If there’s a range of dates given, use the earlier end of the range for smaller bottles, and the later end of the range for larger bottles. If the recommendation is “drink now,” that means we don’t believe the wine will improve with any additional aging, no matter the size of the bottle.

—Dr. Vinny

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