Get Shorties

Why restaurants should re-embrace the half-bottle—and so should you.

wine half bottles

Illustration by Adam Avery

On a recent stop at Mistral, I was craving red wine. Scanning the ambitious roster of glass pours, I began to wonder: How long had those open bottles been left to wilt at room temperature? Then I spied the menu’s 20-deep list of half-bottles. Beyond its cellar-temp advantage, the 375-milliliter “split”—a generous two glasses—gets you into upper-tier bottlings for shorter cash. What a shame that no one carries these, I thought as the Mistral bartender dispatched a glassful of 56-degree perfection from my Barolo mini. Halfsies have been on the wane for years, said the sommeliers I polled, blaming everything from better glass programs to disinterest among newer, hipper winemakers. To help reverse the tide, I’ve been drinking them everywhere I can, including Bistro du Midi, which carries around 50. Meaning someone’s still making them. And if the ’13 Chenevières Chablis I sipped at Townsman is a stodgy throwback, well…I’m okay with that.