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Wine Review: Smaller bottles solve wine's cooking problems

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“I cook with wine; sometimes I even add it to the food.”

So said the famous, albeit often inebriated, movie actor of the 1920s and ’30s, W.C. Fields. Cooking with wine can be a problem, as one often will have to open a bottle of wine just to add a bit of it to the food – and then, what do you do with the rest of it? One option, and usually the most popular, is to serve the wine with dinner. That will work if you are having a gathering. But if not, the wine will probably go into the refrigerator. Actually, that too may not be a good option either as the air in the bottle will deteriorate the wine in a very short period of time, even if it is in the fridge.

The only answer is to drink it. The wine industry has risen to the occasion by introducing smaller containers as a solution to this perplexing conundrum.

While wine for cooking was not the basic plan, it was not too long until the utility of its size and portability came into the picture. With the advent of smaller containers, wine now can be easily enjoyed at parks, beaches and, finally, to its most popular appearance, at the tailgate party.

Seaglass 2018 Sauvignon Blanc; Seaglass 2018 Pinot Grigio ($14/187 milliliters, three-pack)
Good things come in small packages, and these wines prove that beyond any doubt. This is a well-made, full-flavored wine whose small package does not make it a lesser wine. This is definitely the wine if pizza, Mexican or Thai food is the fare of the day while you’re out and about.

Lubanzi 2018 Chenin Blanc ($30/four-pack)
Something truly unexpected, at least to me, was South African wines in 375 milliliters cans. In bottles, cans or any other container, South African wines have a magic about them that is indefinable.

I must stick my neck out here by saying I have never tasted a South African wine that did not impress me. Although for some reason unknown to me, American vintners have turned away from the chenin blanc and only a few producers have it in their portfolio. This wine has an inviting pale yellow color, with of hint of green around the edges. The aroma displays pineapple, guava, lychee, lemon and lime in abundance. The flavor is clean and lively with nuances of nutmeg and cloves, and I believe that it will be a hit at any outdoor as well as indoor feast.

Lubanzi 2018 Red Grape Blend ($30/four-pack)
Made in the style of the French Rhone River wines with shiraz being the dominant variety, this wine is another South African standout. It is full flavored, presenting summer berries and red plum as the dominant flavors matched by a floral aroma. This is the wine for a lakeside picnic or a quiet afternoon at the park – and please do not be a container snob.

Whether the packaging is glass, cardboard or aluminum can, it is the beverage inside that counts. After all, you throw the container away after you finish the wine and never even think about it again.

Avissi Prosecco ($6/187 milliliters)
To turn a meal from an outdoor snack into a sumptuous feast, what better than a sparkling wine and what better type of sparkling wine than Italy’s pride and joy, prosecco? Avissi prosecco is one of the sparkling wines that are supplied in the handy 187 milliliter bottles, as well as the standard 750 milliliters, so there is no loss of quality or enjoyment by the downsizing.

Wine columnist Bennet Bodenstein can be reached at


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