Dry January and ‘the other half’

Here’s a suggestion if your other half is off the booze, or if you’re on your own at home and you want to enjoy a bottle of decent wine over two nights. Most of us don’t keep a supply of wine in half bottles, and that’s if you can find them. So you simply pour half the contents of a full bottle into a half bottle and seal the latter with the cork you’ve just pulled – at the start of the evening, not at the end. That’s the important bit.

I’ve had plenty of practice at this during during January over several years. This works primarily for full bottles sealed with a cork – there’s no need to do this with our screw-capped white, for example, as that will stay pretty fresh in the fridge for a few days once opened, with the cap back on.

You need an empty half bottle, and a small funnel preferably. Keeping a small one in the same drawer as the corkscrew helps maintain the habit. Simply uncork your full bottle (I usually check the wine at this point for any faults) and pour half the wine into your empty half bottle, filling it right up to the neck; this leaves half a bottle’s worth for you to drink that evening, and the other for later. Half a bottle is three small (125ml) glassfuls and is, ahem, usually enough for an evening.

I should add that this also works for two people sharing, who are sticking to about a glass and a half each.

There are three reasons for decanting into a half bottle at the start of the evening.

1. By filling the half bottle and sealing it, the wine will stay fresh for a couple of days. You can use the cork from the full bottle to seal it (the necks have the same diameter) and to remind you what’s in it.

2. It’s easy to forget to decant the wine into a half bottle at the end of the evening, and chances are you won’t have enough to fill it.

3. It imposes a limit: if you normally drink more than half a bottle, it’s surprisingly easy to adjust using this method with practice.

This is far more effective than a Vacuvin pump thingy and is much less fiddly than the clever Coravin device, which also costs hundreds of pounds.

‘The other half’ technique is a habit worth adopting and not just for January. So is taking the third night off after consuming the two halves, though personally I’m less consistent with that one.

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