An interesting article over on Mercury News today dealt with how half bottles of wine are likely growing in acceptance, but that the market is being held back for financial reasons.
One thing that no one tells you about the wine industry is that scale does a hell of a lot in regard to profit margins. The difference between paying 15 cents for a cork and 5 cents doesn’t seem like much, but when you add to other savings like for the glass as well as the packaging materials, you might achieve a few dollars of savings per bottle as you scale up.
Half bottles don’t have the luxury of scale and some winemakers say that it costs them about double to fill a half bottle than they’d expect given full bottle prices, ie it costs the same as a full bottle of wine.
I’ve talked a lot about winemakers that make wine that doesn’t fit in our standard sales instruments can struggle for acceptance based on the entire way that the industry is set up and that’s especially true for half bottles.
It’s shame in this case because we also know that the average consumer is more likely to toss out whats leftover in the bottle as opposed to attempting to save it. Or, they end up drinking more than they’d otherwise prefer to.
Overall, half bottles….they aren’t efficient yet, but this is a clear spot for growth in the industry and it’s a setup that we should encourage more so than we do currently. I’ve done a few half bottles as part of my monthly wine club shipments, but it is different and while I received a few thank you’s, there were complaints as well. It’ll continue being something that I can do, especially if it allows me to feature a more expensive quality of wine for my Exploration Wine Club members (our cheap wine club, well the cheapest we have).