Portable Bubbly

Everyone knows that fashions recycle better and more easily than plastic. Not only does everything old become new again, but frequently a trend doesn’t even age much before it comes roaring back.

If you doubt this, consider the phenomenon of the 187 milliliter Champagne bottle—known in the restaurant trade as a “split.” Years ago, if you ordered a glass of Champagne or a Champagne cocktail in a restaurant, the bubbly usually arrived in the form of a split. This was more cost-effective for the establishment than opening a bottle of Champagne, which in those days was likely to sit around for weeks before anyone requested it again.

It usually wasn’t Champagne, of course, but rather the lowest quality sparkling wine that money could buy. There were other issues NIcolas Feuillatte miniswith splits. Around 30% of them were flat when opened. Of the ones that actually contained Champagne, none were made by the traditional méthode champenoise, but instead by the cheaper Charmat or transfer method. For all these reasons, the split disappeared from wine culture.

Then, in 1999, Champagne Pommery launched Pop, marketed as “the first portable Champagne split.” The seven varieties (mostly off-dry or slightly sweet) were actually no more portable than traditional splits, although they were bottled in lightweight glass. Each bottle of Pop came with a straw, and consumers were encouraged to drink the Champagne through it—sacre bleu! Not to be outdone, in 2005 Niebaum-Coppola (the winery owned by filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola) released a line of sparkling wine named Sofia. In addition to the standard 750 ml bottles, Sofia is available in 187 “minis.” Boasting a stylish pink design, the Sofia minis are packaged in cans, and also include a straw for mobile sipping. The wine is labelled as a Blanc de Blancs, and is a blend of Pinot Blanc, Muscat and Riesling.

For the upcoming holiday season, Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte has introduced One Fo(u)r (1/4), the latest entry in the mini category. Described as “the perfect size for sensible drinking,” it comes with a wrist strap so you can take it wherever you go. And unlike its predecessors, it contains far better wine—187 ml of the regular Feuillatte Brut Reserve or Brut Rosé—so that those who want to drink less can finally drink well.


Mark Spivak is the author of Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History (Lyons Press, 2012) and Moonshine Nation: The Art of Ceating Cornbread in a Bottle (Lyons Press, 2014). For more information, go to amazon.com

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