The Single Wino

On the last day of December I sat and made a to-do list for 2010: eat more greens, go to yoga regularly, and find good wine packaged in single serving bottles.

That last self imposed directive is turning out to be quite the challenge.

Why, might you ask, would I need a mini-bottle full of wine?

One, I’m a single woman who likes nothing more than a nice glass of wine and a good meal at the end of the day. But I was tired of opening a bottle and then dashing off on spontaneous evenings out. Even with wine preservation systems, I was still dumping my fair share of once lovely, now undrinkable bottles.

Then there’s the boredom factor. I’m drinking alone and it takes me several evenings to polish off a bottle. The first night the wine is great, but by day three it’s tired, I’m tired, and it no longer pairs very well with what’s on my menu. Drink the whole bottle, you say? I’m not that kind of girl.

Variety is also the reason I resisted investigating boxed wine. I wanted to be able to pair different wine varietals with different meals, something that isn’t as possible with a three to five liter box of wine in the fridge. True, there are some mini boxes out there (the ones that resemble kids juice boxes), but none of the ones I tried stood out as a favorite.

My desire to pair different wines with different meals was a huge motivating factor in my search to find a few drinkable, individually portioned wines. I’m too well trained to drink syrah with halibut. But budgetary limitations mean I can’t open a different 750 milliliter bottle every night of the week. And if I have pinot to pair with my pork one night, I can’t happily match it with pasta drenched in lemon the next.

Thus, the good wine in single serving bottle challenge. I was looking for something easy, fun, and low commitment. I wanted a wine I could date, not fall in love with.

It turned out to be very hard to find. I’ve discovered that most (ok, very nearly all) of the wine bottled in small bottles is made by huge wineries. I quickly abandoned the idea of finding an interesting wine in a small bottle. Wines packaged in small bottles are also very likely to be either merlot or chardonnay. Neither is my favorite varietal.

Very soon my already challenging task had become even more difficult: nice wine, small bottle, not merlot, not chard. Picky, picky, picky. I decided that I might be asking too much. Maybe I shouldn’t try to find it all in one (little) package.

Perhaps, I thought, instead of wine greatness I should aim for reliability: a solid red, a white, and a bubbly. Everyday wines that that tasted good, paired well with weeknight meals, and provided a bit of comfort at the end of a long day.

Here are the petite bottles I found that made me the happiest.

Barefoot Pinot Grigio, NV: This wine is bright, crisp, and filled with sunny citrus notes and a hint of green apple. It’s a well balanced wine, maybe a tad sweet. Ultimately very refreshing and utterly drinkable after a long day.

Barokes Blanc de Blancs, NV: I was surprised by this little sparkler in a can that hails from Australia. I was expecting something cloying and insipid but got a glass of bubbles that was dry and nutty, with a bit of brioche. A nice pre-dinner aperitif — preferably drunk from the petite green and silver can.

Big House Red 2006: This red blend comprised of juice from more than ten different grapes is lush and juicy with soft tannins and rich flavors of red and black fruits. It isn’t a very complex wine, but it is well balanced and tasty. I was surprised to see the 2006 on the shelf, and imagine that soon it will be replaced by the 2007. I’ll be eager to try it.


Anne Zimmerman is working on a book about the food writer M.F.K. Fisher. She lives, eats, and drinks in San Francisco.