Entertaining | What wine to serve for a party

Entertaining

What wine to serve for a party

Deciding which wine is best suited to serve to large numbers can be tricky. It’s a question of budget (obviously), your own preferences and those of your guests and the type of food you’re serving.

So assuming you’re providing the booze rather than letting people bring their own what should you bear in mind?

1. Wine - like any drink - should be refreshing

A roomful of people tends to be an overheated environment so light, fresh-tasting wines work better than full-bodied ones (although see point 2 below). Wines of between 11% and 12.5% may sound a bit wimpy but are well-suited to parties, especially during the summer months. It’s also worth choosing wines that have a high level of acidity like Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling which will refresh rather than tire the palate. If you're serving richer reds try and keep them cool by leaving them in an unheated room or outside the back door (unless it’s freezing, obviously)

Consider: Whites such as Sauvignon Blanc, Côtes de Gascogne, Riesling, Vinho Verde (a low alcohol Portuguese white wine), Italian whites such as Verdicchio. Reds such as Gamay, Pinot Noir or inexpensive Merlot

2. Hot food or cold food?

As with any other aspect of food and wine matching it’s worth taking into account the type of food you’re serving - hot food like lasagne, a pie or casserole will need fuller-bodied wines than a cold buffet or party nibbles. A sparkling wine like prosecco or cava, for example, is ideal with canapés whereas it would be too light for a robust wintry braise. Just search the dish or dishes you’re planning as a centrepiece of the party under Find a Match or email me at fiona AT matchingfoodandwine DOT com

3. What would your guests enjoy?

That will depend partly on the age group, partly on their interests. Younger drinkers (by which I’m thinking of twenty- and thirty-somethings NOT under-age drinkers, obviously) tend to like sweeter-tasting wines than their parents. A group of fellow wine-lovers will probably have more adventurous tastes than a random assortment of neighbours.

That said, I reckon the most popular party wines all-round would be New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, pinot noir (see Aldi's Chilean pinot I recommended in the Christmas reds below), young rioja and prosecco.

4. Keeping your friends sober

Obviously this isn’t entirely under your control but you can help by not pouring hefty reds of 14.5% and over. People sometimes don’t realise just how alcoholic the wine they’re drinking is. It also makes sense to have plenty of soft drinks available. Big jugs of water with plenty of ice and slices of citrus or cucumber look inviting as well.

5. Staying on budget

Probably the least of your problems as there’s so much inexpensive wine around but please don’t imagine that if you’re buying wine at ‘half price’ or ‘better than half price’ you’re really saving yourself that amount. Even without those apparently dramatic discounts you should be able to get a decent basic white, red or rosé for under £6 and a sparkler for under £10.

Here are some wines I've recommended in recent wine round-ups and features. Remember that you should be able to an additional discount if you’re buying 6 bottles or more. (That applies to wine merchants too who may well have something in the price you're looking for.)

The best sparkling wines for Christmas and the New Year - from the Guardian

Christmas reds and Christmas whites - both from the Guardian but should be useful for New Year's entertaining too

Is Aldi or Lidl better value for your Christmas wine?

Waitrose reds and whites though remember the 25% off deal I mention doesn't currently apply

My pick of Tesco's and Sainsbury's current range. Again no 25% off deal at the moment and that some of the promotions will have lapsed.

Image © papa - Fotolia.com


Got other ideas? Do email your favourite pairings to us at greatmatches@matchingfoodandwine.com. To subscribe to our free monthly newsletter and be eligible to enter our fabulous prize draws click here or to get notice of posts as soon as they're published click here.

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