In the UK, sales of single serving wine bottles are on the rise as more and more people are becoming conscious of their alcohol intake, according to a recent article. The recommended maximum consumption is on average 3 units a day for both men and women, which is less than a third of a 750ml bottle of wine typically containing 10 units. Although prices are not reduced in proportion to the amount of wine you’ll get when purchasing a mini bottle, Brits don’t seem to mind paying for the help in restraint.
But will the trend follow in Australia? Based on last years statistics, alcohol consumption is already declining. So perhaps mini bottles are something retailers should put more focus on. Despite more and more quality wine becoming available in 187ml bottles, bottle-O's prefer to stock the more common 200ml quantities of sparkling wines. Sparkling or still, either of the two are within the limits of the above mentioned recommended 3 units per day, which actually equates to 225ml of a standard 13.5% ABV wine.
Amongst Marks & Spencer’s best selling mini wines is actually an Australian red, so we shouldn’t have any problems getting our hands on some tiny bottles of quality quaff. As with everything else, the general rule of “buying bulk saves money” applies to wine as well. But let’s have a look at the price health conscious consumers must pay when opting for a quarter bottle instead of a full one. Or perhaps more importantly, where should you be heading to find the best deals?
Although there are companies, such as Half Bottles, who specialise in bottles sizes ranging from 187ml to 375ml, they can’t compete with the prices of giants like Dan Murphy’s. However, they do offer a wider selection of reds, whites and sparkling wines from known labels (McWilliams, Wolf Blass, Angove, etc.) with free delivery to Sydney metro.
Comparing Dan’s prices on mini bottles vs. full sized ones, I was surprised to find that not all quarter sized editions are stupidly more expensive than buying the standard bottles of the same wine.
In fact, there’s not much difference when you go for labels such as Jacob’s Creek. The difference in their 187ml and 750 ml Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay works out at just 0.1 cents per ml giving them virtually the same unit cost. Jacob Creek wines are also reasonably priced with a single serving (187ml) only costing you $2.49.
However, other reds could cost you significantly more per ml if you were to go for the smaller bottles. Some good examples to watch out for are Lindeman’s Bin 50 Shiraz and McGuian's Black Label Merlot. Lindeman’s 187 ml bottle of Shiraz is going for $2.69 (or 1.4 cents per ml), compared to paying less than a cent per ml for a full sized bottle. McGuigan Black Label Merlot is also a reasonably priced red, which you can get for $7.99, however the 187ml bottle would cost you $2.99 which equates to 60% more per ml overall. As for a more expensive white, such as Brancott Estate’s $12.99 Sauvignon Blanc, here you ultimately end up paying a third less ($3.99) but for only a quarter of the wine.
When it comes to sparkling wine and Champagne, you’re charged roughly 30% more when buying the 200ml “piccolo” editions (meaning "small" in Italian) across most labels. Jacob’s Creek Chardonnay Pinot Noir will set you back $3.99, meanwhile for Grant Burge’s bubbly you’ll be looking at paying over double that at $9.99.
Interestingly, Moët & Chandon’s Brut Imperial is priced at 7c per ml in the standard sized bottles, however this increases by 3-4 cents not only in the smaller versions but curiously in the 1.5L magnum bottle as well. The 200ml Moët & Chandon Brut Imperial will cost you $22.99 at Dan Murphy’s.
Mini bottles of bubbly can be useful as stocking filler gifts for Christmas or controlling alcohol consumption at catered events. However, single servings of red, white and sparkling wines also have other advantages over standard sized bottles:
- First of all, they'll help you stay healthier without the need for increased self-discipline. In case of sparkling wines, you don’t have to worry about wasting an opened bottle because it has gone flat. I know many of you are happy to make the sacrifice and just finish the bottle, but let’s be honest, it isn’t the healthiest option out there.
- Quarter bottles also offer a great alternative for people who live alone or who’s partners do not drink, but would like to have a glass of wine on occasion.
- Also, your blood alcohol content percentage after drinking a glass of wine stays below 0.05%, so you’ll be able to drive legally, unless you’re a learner, novice, bus, taxi or truck driver. On a personal note however, I do not recommend drinking and driving, no matter the amount consumed.
- You can reuse the small bottles for craft projects and for storing condiments. ;)
If the small sized trend hits down under, it might not be the best news for retailers such as WineMarket and Cellarmasters who only sell cases by the dozen. However, from a consumers point of view it would be interesting to see whether they would adapt to the demand and start adding cases of the 187ml editions to their repertoire.