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03.09.2004

Finding Half Bottles of Wine Online

Ode to wine in the half bottle:

A good thing in small package, preventer of DUIs, savior of single bachelors, facilitator of multi-wine dinners for two, perfect picnic companion, easily backpackable, saver of cellar space, goodness.

Isn't it a pain that when you go to any wine establishment, you really only get a small selection of half bottles to choose from? OK, so maybe you're not a big half bottle shopper, but as a former bachelor who only on the best of nights could actally bring myself to finish an entire bottle alone, I bought a lot of half bottles, which is about the perfect size for a nice dinner where you want some wine, but also want to be able to drive home.

I've had fantasies of setting up a Web site to sell only half bottles of wine. While I think it's a great idea from a customer service perspective, its a really bad business idea. So instead I've decided to do a little sleuthing on the Web and offer these sources for procurement of 375 Milliliters of joy.

UNITED STATES:

Sam's Wine, Chicago, IL
I got 211 results from their site searching on half bottles. They are a reputable retailer (I have bought from them before) with a great selection. Online and telephone sales.

View their half bottles: http://tinyurl.com/2lhmk

K&L Wines, San Francisco, CA
Their site has 89 half-bottles available for purchase. Many are Sauternes and other dessert wines, but there are quite a few gems, like the 2002 Patz & Hall Chardonnay, available, as well as some very rare wines, like a 1934 Mouton Rothschild (at $325). Online sales or by phone.

View their half bottles: http://tinyurl.com/2jngm

Wine.Com, Napa, CA
They carry a reasonable set of wines by the half bottle. Most are the usual mainstream crap, but they have a few wines by people like Estancia and Saintsbury that are worth drinking. Online and phone orders.

View their half bottles: http://tinyurl.com/2togb

MacArthur Beverages, Washington, DC
An interesting group of (some rare) Italian wines by the half bottle. Phone orders only.

View their half bottles: http://tinyurl.com/2bylf

Weimax Wines, Burlingame, CA
A decent selection of various reds and whites including some classic favorites like Rombauer, Grgich Hills, and Far Niente. Order by phone, no online sales.
http://www.weimax.com/half_bot.htm


INTERNATIONAL

1855.Com, Paris, France
This France based retailer has the largest selection of half-bottles that I have ever seen. Literally hundreds and hundreds in every category and every price range. It's unclear, however, how much they will charge to ship to the US. Online and telephone sales.

View their half bottles: http://tinyurl.com/3yowm

Finestwine.com, Hong Kong & France
This is a new Internet retailer for me, but I was quite amazed to see that they claim to carry 691 wines by the half bottle. It turns out that they are very focused on higher end wines, and also a little overpriced, as their cheapest half-bottle starts at $69. However, if you are looking for 375 ml of that 1999 Pauillac Lafite Rothschild, you got it for $289.00. And free shipping. They are based in Hong Kong and France, and have a sales office inthe US as well.

The link below is to their advanced search. Select 375 ml as a search term under "bottle size."
http://www.finestwine.com/english/adv_search.asp

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