While small may not always be beautiful, it can sometimes have quite a bit going for it.
For example, seasoned international travellers soon learn to pack economically, avoiding the struggle with oversized suitcases crammed with clothes that will never be worn. When it comes to consumables, sometimes it's smarter and cheaper to buy loose or single items rather than those attractively pre-packaged, which may seem a better bulk-buy but you finish up throwing most of them out because they too quickly pass their use-by date. And so it is that for some people the standard 750ml wine bottle is simply too big. With screwcaps they can possibly have a longer shelf life but there are occasions when a smaller-sized bottle would be more convenient.
A number of dessert wines come in 330ml bottles because the wine is usually richer and leans towards a denser, fortified style. And other styles do exist in cute 250ml bottles, such as are served on passenger ferries and airlines, but they're something of a rarity and are usually representative of large commercial companies who can command a significant volume of sales for a captive market.
Medium-sized and smaller producers will tell you that economy of scale doesn't work for bottles smaller than 750ml, which is why there aren't many of them on the market.
Smart, then, of Mission Estate - New Zealand's oldest winery - which has been bottling wine for 161 years, to identify a shifting demographic and act accordingly.
The Hawkes Bay winery realised that the standard 750ml bottle might not always suit the lifestyle of people in 2012. The population is older, increasingly urban, lives in smaller family units, is single or divorced - not to forget the vigilance now related to drink-driving. There are also issues regarding health and avoiding excessive drinking.
So it recently launched the first 500ml bottles of both red and white wine - an in-between serving size for two, each bottle containing approximately four glasses of wine. It's an innovative new format and deserves to succeed.
As we're fond of saying: "drink less, drink better".
2011 Mission Estate Sauvignon Blanc, $9.99-$12.99
Using grapes from Marlborough, the world's most-revered region for sauvignon blanc, this has classic flavours and aromas of passionfruit and gooseberry. It has a generous long finish and is elegantly crafted. Classic Wairau Valley.
2011 Mission Estate Syrah, $9.99-$12.99
Made from Hawkes Bay grapes, which always bodes well for this
varietal. An approachable wine with delicate softness and gentle berry fruit flavours with spicy overtones. It will suit most meat and pasta dishes.