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Published: Tuesday, 9/19/2006

Wine by the box or by the bottle

The biggest wine-industry news focuses on wine in a box.

There are many good reasons for this type of packaging, among them: Wine in a box doesn't take up refrigerator space because the airtight sack inside the box preserves the wine fresh for weeks at room temperature.

This puts an end to the cork-vs.-cap controversy because wine in a box needs neither cork nor cap; instead, a small plastic spigot attached to the sack draws a glass or decanter whenever desired without replacing it with air, which in a few days would age the wine in a recorked bottle.

Meanwhile, How much wine is in a bottle? There are four common sizes, the names of which you may know. For the sake of international markets, sizes are based on a liter, which is a little more than a quart.

Here's a rundown of the basic sizes:

•The STANDARD wine bottle. Imported or domestic, a label will include an abbreviation, either "75 ml" for 750 milliliters, or "75 cl," standing for 75 centiliters and each is the same: three-fourths of a liter. It's worth noting that a case generally contains six standard bottles, not 12.

•A MAGNUM is a bottle of 1.5 milliliters; a rarely seen champagne bottle may be much larger, with an exotic name that might be a trivia answer.

•The HALF-BOTTLE, which, as the term suggests, is 375 ml.

•The SPLIT, usually a single serving, is 187 ml.

Are you a zinfandel fan who's anxious that your favorite California red is disappearing from the center stage it enjoyed just a few years ago?

All is not lost. Russian River Ravenswood Winery wants you to know its current offerings include six single-vineyards, the pride of which is its '04 historic Old Hill zin ($59.99). The other vintages, all '04, are priced at $29.99

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