Choosing The Right Wine For A Party
Imagine the situation. There is a group of guests coming over for a dinner party, perhaps colleagues or potential clients that the host must impress. These invitees all need good entertainment, hospitality and – most importantly – great food and the right wine for a party.
But, the host barely knows these people. The host will have a hard time understanding what type of wine the dinner guests would expect at the party.
What is a good host to do, especially with so many individuals attending?
Figuring out the type of wine for each guest is too difficult. There is no way to please all of the guests all of the time when stocking up on wine.
For starters, hosts can’t start going around asking for individual preferences. This tactic is time-consuming and a little over-kill in some circumstances. This asking approach also runs the risk of high costs. Finding individual bottles for each guest is impractical.
Instead, hosts need to stock up on an inexpensive crowd-pleaser that will get the job done. Stocking up may seem like a risky strategy with deals and relationships on the line. But, it is possible to make a great choice with the right considerations.
This guide to choosing the right wine for a party looks at the following considerations:
- The difference between a familiar and a more unusual wine
- Red, white, rose or all three?
- Dietary needs
- The best and worst white wines for a party
- The best and worst red wines for a party
A Familiar Or An Unusual Wine?
There are three different routes that hosts can try here when choosing the wine for a party. The first route is the familiar one. It makes sense to consumers to choose the wine that people know. Meaning the host buys a grape type and from a region that guests may be familiar with, or even drink at home. This safe option is where guests shouldn’t get too offended by the wine choice. But, it doesn’t show too much thought and won’t provide much of interest.
The second route is to find something unusual. This unusual approach means a grape of region that is less familiar or a taste that pushes a glass of wine in a different direction. Wine lovers and good friends may appreciate this gesture. But, this could be too challenging for those that drink on rare occasions.
The best choice is, therefore, the middle road – a bottle from a different area or a subtle flavor that won’t challenge drinkers too much. Another tip is to avoid the vintages at this point.
Some hosts may have a good bottle in a wine rack just waiting for the perfect occasion. This gathering of more casual acquaintances is not that perfect occasion. Hosts should save the vintage reds and whites for a family celebration where drinkers will appreciate it. It is just a waste to serve it to those that won’t savor it or understand its significance. Cheaper, later bottles are just fine.
Red, White or Rose?
What color wine is the biggest question for many hosts contemplating the ideal wine for a party? Some buyers may think that the meal at the party may dictate that choice. After all, novice wine drinkers are always told to pair white with fish and red with red meat.
But, this isn’t wine lovers gospel. Also, different guests will have different views. The best approach is to bring in a good supply of red and white. Wine lovers typically divide themselves down this line.
So, this choice should satisfy everyone. Eliminate rose from the argument entirely. Rose is an excellent wine for those that aren’t wine drinkers and like a middle ground. But, too much variety will smell of uncertainty and compromise at an important dinner party.
Be Aware Of Dietary Preferences
Dinner party hosts should always take to the time to cater to everyone’s dietary needs. Many hosts will automatically do so when thinking about the food. It is almost second nature now to ask whether guests or vegetarian or have any allergies or intolerances. But, hosts don’t always give as much consideration to the wine. It can help to ask the following questions before choosing the right bottles:
1) Are any of the guests vegan?
If so, hosts need to look out for a vegan-approved wine that is safe to drink. It is easy to assume that all wine in vegan because it comes from grapes. But, there are wines where animal products enter the production and filtration process. Once this happens, the wine is no longer vegan.
2) Are any of the guests insistent on organic wine?
Organic wine is a good talking point for those that want a more ethical, interesting wine source. Some wine lovers won’t touch anything else for fear over the chemicals used on the grapes. If this is the case, hosts need to research suppliers more carefully.
3) Are any of the guests especially health conscious in other ways?
Guests can debate the health properties of a glass of wine all night, and many probably will. But, some wines are healthier than others. Some drinkers have concerns over the actual ingredients within a bottle. Hosts that give guests a chance to veto wine will save some embarrassment.
4) Are any of the guests kosher?
Then there are the religious requirements from some of the guests at the party. Religious customs is something that could easily slip the mind of hosts and potentially cause embarrassment.
Choosing The Right White Wine
When choosing a white wine, it helps to find a right balance between anything that is too sweet or too dry. Wine lovers often turn to sharper, fruitier wines for dinner parties because of the way they complement different courses. Try researching some different regions from the norm.
Why stick with an everyday Australian bottle when their neighbors in New Zealand have such affordable and interesting options. New Zealand wine will spark conversation for those yet to try wine from this up-coming region. These bottles are also still affordable.
A Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand
Starting with New Zealand, this Sauvignon Blanc is an entry point into this region. It has a great flavor, with lots of gentle fruity elements like kiwi and lime. There is also a refreshing extra element with the green pepper.
There are many names for creating wine from this grape, such as Giesen, Chimney Creek, and Monkey Bay. Hosts should go for a young, affordable bottle and show guests something new.
Muscadet from France
Muscadet is a refreshing alternative from the Loire Valley of France. This is another young, fruity wine with a tart but fresh taste. This taste makes its ideal for different meals and provides mass appeal. A bonus with this option is the lower alcohol content. Guests can have a slightly larger glass with fewer worries. Name of note includes Daniel et Gérard Vinet, Château du Cléray (Sauvion) and Marquis de Goulaine.
Saint-Véran or Mâcon from France
This second French option is an excellent alternative to the more typical Chardonnay. These similar wines come from the same grape but offer something a little different from the usual taste. Guests will appreciate the natural tartness and dryness but show surprise at the details in the flavor. The Mâcon is usually less expensive and more accessible. Hosts should try Labouré-Roi or Louis Jadot.
Pinot Grigio from Italy
Pinot Grigio is a bit of a love it or hates it drink, with a few wine snobs dismissing it entirely. However, a good bottle can act as a strong pallet cleanser. Some good Italian makers understand how to get the best from the grapes. Hosts should look out for Alois Lageder, Zenato and Placido wines that use grapes from the Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Trentino-Alto Adige regions.
Whites to avoid
Some forms of white wine are immediately more popular than others. Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay often top this list, especially Californian or Australian wines. The problem here is that some of these white options are too run-of-the-mill. These wines are best sellers because they are familiar and unchallenging. Some of these wines are far too sweet for a dinner party. Then there are the unpopular types of white wine. Riesling is arguably underrated as a great tasting white. But, guests with limited wine knowledge may feel put off when they see this alternative option on the table.
Choosing The Right Red Wine
There are some people hooked on red wine, no matter the occasion. It is important that hosts cater to this preference with a carefully considered red for the table. Hosts don’t want anything too subtle here, as this wine needs enough impact on the pallet. At the same time, it can’t be so bold that it is overpowering.
Medium bodied reds are a nice middle ground with just enough depth and a pairing with different cuisine. There are some great options available from Portugal, Chile, and America.
Portugal isn’t a name associated with many high-end wines. But, there are actually some rich, enjoyable reds from this area. Some of these fuller wines have a familiar taste to those that drink port. Others will simply enjoy the chance to try something new. Hosts will just love the lower costs on this less popular region. Consumers should check out local retailer for deals on this alternative option.
Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile
A Cab is a great bet for a dinner party as it should please a lot of different people. But, hosts that want to impress can try a different country. There is some Chilean red that taste a little fierier. Other bottles have chocolate notes. This mix should make wine tasting at a party a little more interesting. A good bet here is either Montes or Luis Felipe Edwards from the Colchagua Valley.
Pinot Noir from America
Returning a little closer to home, there are many American Pinot Noir wines that go down well with many consumers. Part of the reason for the popularity of the Pinot Noir is its consistency. There is a steady supply of grape and wine of high standards, which means lower-priced options readily available.
This is a fruity blend on a different level with the hints of cherries and blackberries, rather than the lighter citrus note. Some great names here include Beringer, Kendall-Jackson, and Cambria.
Petite Sirah from California
This final option in this guide is another one that isn’t the immediate choice for the areas. Many wine lovers will recognize the Syrah grape. But, this is the entirely different Sirah grape. This means a more profound wine with a bolder flavor. It needs a little time to breathe, so it is going to be to everyone’s tastes. It could win over a lot of fans. Top names include Parducci, Bogle, Concannon, and Guenoc.
Reds to Avoid
Again, for every exciting red with a full body and bold flavor, there is one to avoid. The options above are all great alternatives to the norm that should inspire conversation and enhance the pallet. There are many American Merlots and Cabernet Sauvignons that fill shopping carts and grocery store shelves across the nation. They are dependable and familiar. But, they won’t excite guests at a dinner party.
Cost Is As Important As Taste
Source: eHow cookingguide
Throughout this guide on wine for a party, we pointed out the benefits of cheaper regions and grapes over expensive, must-have wines and vintages. Cost really is an important factor when choosing the best wine for a party.
Hosts don’t want to go overboard and spend too much, just because guests are “important”. It is still possible to make a good impression from a clever, affordable choice instead of a fancy, over-priced one. There isn’t much need to spend more than $15 a bottle. It also helps to remember that some wine sellers will add discounts to a case. Hosts need to shop around for a good deal on the right wines. As long as the receipt isn’t left lying around, who’s to know?
In the end, the most important factor is the enjoyment of the guests. The right wine can spark a conversation, enhance a meal and improve relations. These outcomes are even more likely if hosts take the time to source the right wines to match individual requirements.
Still, a strange blend or a new region can still spark conversation even if it splits opinion. The worst thing that a wine can be is boring or predictable. Therefore, guests should go for one of these alternatives, but also trust their gut.