“Everybody have fun tonight… Everybody Wang Chung tonight…”
Oops… sorry. We must have been having an ’80s flashback. Seems to happen every time we start thinking about party planning. And now that the holiday season is upon us, we’re going to be singing that tune… at least in our minds… a lot.
There are two basic considerations when planning a party that includes wine: 1) the number of guests, and 2) the type of appetizers you plan to serve. The first will help you determine how many bottles to have on hand; the second will help you choose the types of wine.
Fortunately, for those who may be mathematically challenged as I am, determining the bottle count is pretty easy. Basically, for each two guests, you’ll want to have one bottle of wine on hand.
Each bottle provides four or five glasses of wine — depending on the size of your pour — which means, on average, each guest will be able to enjoy just over two glasses. Obviously, designated drivers muddy the math a little bit, so adjust your bottle count accordingly.
Always have Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon on hand, but beyond those two popular varieties, the “wine list” is up to you.
If you’re serving caviar — whether it’s appa, whitefish, salmon, osetra or sevruga — you should have sparkling wine that’s chilled down. It needn’t be as expensive as the caviar; a nice Italian Prosecco would work just fine.
Pate provides abundant pairing possibilities, depending on the type. With duck truffle pate, try Merlot, Zinfandel, Syrah/Shiraz, Pinot Noir or Gewurztraminer. With a fresh vegetable pate, consider Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc (in addition to Cabernet).
Mushroom-spinach puff pastries make fun party fare, and taste great with a Brut-style sparkling wine, Merlot or a fruitful (not oaky) Chardonnay.
And let’s not forget cheese. Rather than trying to come up with precise cheese-and-wine pairings, we strongly suggest the smorgasbord approach. If you select 10 different types of cheese to serve, then also choose 10 different types of wine, and let your guests do their own mixing and matching.