Anyone out there thinking of hosting a dinner party, cocktail party or just a casual cookout this summer? If so, I'd like an invite :) But I'd also like to share with you some tips for choosing your wines that will impress your guests, take your party to the next level and won't break the bank. A little effort goes a long way here, trust me. I'm sure you've experienced this- you walk into a party and the wine options are as follows; a Chardonnay, a Sauvignon Blanc, a Pinot Noir and a Cabernet Sauvignon...all from California. Don't get me wrong, I'm not hating on Cali wines. Give me a bold California Cabernet with a juicy steak any day of the week and I'll be a happy lady. My point, however, is that (most) people buy what they know to serve at a party because its safe and people will recognize what they're serving. Veto, veto, veto! I'm going to give you four tips along with four wines to use for your next party. Each wine is interesting, affordable and sure to keep your guests satisfied.
Tip 1: Start by serving a white wine that is high in acidity. Acid gets your taste buds working and will make your guests more hungry. For a similar reason, the first wine should be the cheapest you serve all night. As your tastebuds warm up, so will your ability to taste the wine, therefore the first glass of wine you have all night most likely won't taste as good as the subsequent glasses.
Some suggestions: Alsace Riesling or Pinot Blanc, a white blend from Washington State, or an Austrian Gruner Veltliner.
My recommendation? The 2013 Hugo Gruner Veltliner. Available for $12.99 at Barrel Thief.
Tip 2: Now that you have a tart, acidic white on the menu, you'll want to choose a creamier white to satisfy the palates of those that prefer a fuller bodied white.
Some suggestions: White Burgundy, Italian Soave, Italian Vermentino, French or Domestic Viognier
My recommendation? The 2013 Pra Otto Soave Classico. Available for $19.99 at Barrel Thief.
Tip 3: I've hosted and poured wine at a lot of parties in my day and I must say the red wine is always tricky. You might assume that more people drink red wine when it's cold and white wine when it's hot? Not a bad assumption, but I've never found it to hold true. The thing I have noticed, however, is that people tend to drink more white wine at cocktail parties (when people are standing up) and more red wine at dinner parties (when people are sitting down). My conclusion, along with the fact that people don't want to spill or walk around with the dreaded red wine lips, is that people prefer to drink red wine with food and are more comfortable drinking white wine on its own.
That said, you definitely need at least one red wine option at any party. If you're only serving one red wine, I would go with something medium bodied, acidic, fruit forward and not overly tannic. Perhaps with some spice on the palate.
Some suggestions: Bordeaux, Barbera d'Asti, Barbera d'Alba, Chianti Classico, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, a French Malbec or a French Grenache
My recommendation? The 2013 Collina La Mora Barbera d'Asti. Available for $15.99 at Barrel Thief.
Tip 4: If you choose to serve two red wines, I would also add a lighter bodied, easy drinking red. A rosé would also be a good option here.
Some suggestions: Cabernet Franc, Beaujolais, Red Burgundy, Oregon Pinot Noir or Austrian Zweigelt
My recommendation? The 2012 Domaine de la Grume Brouilly (a Cru Beaujolais). Available for $16.99 at Barrel Thief.
I hope you refer back to this post when hosting your next partay! As always, feel free to shoot questions my way! Cheers and Happy Tasting!