With more and more Americans drinking wine regularly, the “rules” of party planning are evolving.
“Back in the day,” it was considered important to have a “full bar” available for party guests so everyone could enjoy their favorite adult beverage. Scotch, Gin, Vodka and Tequila were considered “staples,” along with an array of mixers.
However, most people are drinking “lighter” these days, opting for lower-alcohol beverages such as beer or wine so as to avoid intoxication. D.U.I. infractions now carry very stiff penalties, and everyone (it seems) has a video camera in their cell phone, so getting drunk at a party just isn’t a good idea.
Those practical reasons aside, wine simply is a very social beverage. It’s also considered “sophisticated,” even as its long-held reputation as a snobbish drink is quickly dissipating. In short, wine is a more attractive party choice than ever.
So, how much wine should you plan to have on hand? And what types of wine should you offer?
It depends on the type of party. For instance, if you’re hosting a party in your home, you’ll want ten bottles for each 10 guests. (This figure is based on an average “pour size” of 5 ounces, which means you’ll get about five servings per standard-sized bottle.)
However, if you’re buying wine for an office party, we suggest five bottles per 10 people. The “dynamics” at such a party are different, some people won’t drink at all around their boss or co-workers, and keep in mind that whole video camera-in-the-cell phone thing.
And what types of wine should you offer? Well, unless you know your guests and their personal preferences very well, it’s best to go with the most popular varieties – Chardonnay among white wines, and Cabernet Sauvignon among reds.
For a five-bottle home party at which most people will be standing and socializing, go with three bottles of Chardonnay and two bottles of Cabernet.
If you’re hosting a more formal sit-down dinner, reverse those numbers – opt for two bottles of Chardonnay and three bottles of Cabernet.
Chardonnay is the more “social” of the two varieties, while Cabernet is the more “formal.”
For a walk-around office party, go with two bottles of Chardonnay and one bottle of Cabernet.
If you want to add a little variety to the wine mix – particularly for larger parties with 20 more guests, substitute Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc for one of the Chardonnay bottles, and replace one of the Cabernet bottles with either Merlot or Pinot Noir.
All of this assumes guest lists of mostly “normal” people – i.e., not wine aficionados. If you’re throwing a party for wine lovers, it can be a lot of fun to offer a much more diverse mix of varieties.
In addition to the wine, be sure to have plenty of food, water and coffee on hand. Food helps mitigate the impact of alcohol in the system. Encourage guests to drink water along with their wine, as this will help prevent dehydration (particularly during the warm-weather months). And for the designated drivers at the party (particularly an evening event), a gourmet blend of coffee (such as Starbucks) will be most appreciated.
Remember, you want everyone to have a good time, but you also want them to get home safely.