Party Planning: Choosing the Right Wines

In yesterday’s blog on “doing the wine” for a special event, we considered the importance of planning, talked about how to get an accurate guest count, and looked at a basic formula for determining how much wine would be needed.

But what kind of wine? If you don’t know all of the attendees and their personal preferences—which is the likely scenario at a party with a lengthy guest list—how can you make such an important decision?

One simple solution is to go with half whites and half reds. Then, depending on your total bottle count and budget, try to get two or three varieties of each hue.

Among whites, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are solid choices. For a third, consider something on the sweet side, such as a Moscato or off-dry Riesling. Many people have a sweet tooth that extends to wine drinking.

Among reds, start with Merlot and perhaps a fruit-forward Zinfandel. Then, for a little variety, opt for a Rhone blend or perhaps a Sangiovese-based cuvee.

Ready for another asterisk? If the event is taking place in the summertime, when the weather is hot, consider changing the white:red ratio from 50:50 to 60:40. White wines, especially when chilled, are more refreshing than reds.

Likewise, if the event is scheduled for the dead of winter, you may want to have more reds on hand than whites. Reds typically have a slightly higher alcohol level, and alcohol warms the heart (and other body parts).

Almost as important as what type of wine and which labels you choose is the source of the wine&mdasah;be it a supermarket, a wine shop or your friends here at Vinesse. It never hurts to tap the minds of people who know their stock, especially when it comes to pricing. Wine prices are not static; they go up and they go down, based on the law of supply and demand.

Another consideration: if the wine you’re purchasing needs to be shipped, allow the extra time needed to get it from Point A to Point B. Also consider having it shipped directly to the venue so you don’t have to schlep it around. Cases of wine are heavy.

Finally, if you have any influence over the glassware to be used, exert it. When serving wine, it’s always best to do so in wine glasses. Unless the host venue is a home, chances are good that it’ll be stocked with an ample supply of stems. But never assume; you know what happens when you do that. Ask.

Glassware, like any other product, has a quality range. But you’re far better off with even a so-so wine glass than a plastic cup. If plastic cups are going to be used, you may as well buy a bunch of “Two-Buck Chuck” and call it a day. Your reputation as a wine expert may be tarnished, but at least you’ll be a hero as far as the budget is concerned.

Remember, planning is essential. Start with the event date, and then back out the work, allowing ample time for each task (including shipping).

When it comes to “doing the wine” for a special event, those who fail to plan…end up drinking out of plastic cups.

Tomorrow: A look at the wine “work sheet” for my friend’s upcoming wedding.

Posted in Wine Tips
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