Hosting a dinner party? How to pick your wine selection


Hosting a dinner party can be one of the most rewarding evenings of your life. Whether it was to entertain your friends or family or to ingratiate yourself to your colleagues, dinner parties are a stressful and yet hopefully enjoyable affair. They do require extensive amounts of planning to ensure that everything goes swimmingly. Not only do you need to consider the food but also the drink. 

Wine is one of those things that everybody expects to see at a dinner party, but few are experts on it and as such choosing wine for a party can be tricky. Making sure that there is something there for everyone is important as is how much to buy. This guide will keep you right on your wine choices and hopefully take away some of the stress from hosting such an event. 

Color choice

Enjoyably and frustratingly, there is so much choice of wine out there that you truly can go wrong when it comes to choosing wine. Fortunately, one of the first steps you should take is to pick a selection of colors. Red, White, and Rose are the staples of the wine family, and whilst they do diversify into different types of wine, you should make sure that you have at least a varied selection of wine on offer. Not everyone will enjoy the same thing. Make sure that everyone can have something to drink and that you can offer alternatives so that nobody is on the water.

Arguably, the most popular wines tend to be Red and White whilst the Rose wine is seen as more entry-level. Rose wine is likely to be sweeter than its counterparts and often struggles to be paired with food, but you should always play it safe and grab some just in case you have a fussy guest. 

Size choice

Wine bottle sizes vary amongst the types of wine and how premium it is. Many of your standard bottles of wine come in the standard bottle of 750ml whilst some of the more premium wine can be purchased in smaller and larger bottles. Smaller bottles can go down as small as 187.5ml known as a split bottle whilst some wine can be supersized up to the nebuchadnezzar of 15 liters of wine or 20 bottles of regular wine. 

If you want to keep it simple buying multiple bottles of wine can ensure that you don’t run out but may become costly. However, buying larger bottles of wine can not only keep your guests drinking throughout the night but they make a great party piece and talking point. Just make sure you can pour the bigger bottles well. Nobody wants to end up with a lap full of wine. 

Something else to consider when it comes to wine bottle sizes is that different types of wine have different sizes for particular reasons. For example, bottles of champagne often extend to larger sizes as they make great party pieces and are often served to a wide audience. Dessert wines on the other hand are much sweeter and not as popular. They are mostly sold in smaller bottles because of this. Also, it is very rare to serve more than 125ml of a dessert wine whereas regular wine is usually served at double that. All of these should be considered when making your purchases. 

Wine Pairings

One of the safest ways to ensure that your wine is well received and impose some order on your selection is by pairing the wine with the food it will be served with. Not only does this limit your choices and make it easier to make a selection but can enhance your food experience for your guests. A great food and wine pairing can get even the fussiest guest enjoying themselves. 

There are usually safe bets when it comes to pairing wine and food. Red wine is more associated with dark meat. Think along the lines of steaks, game, and lamb chops. All of these tend to be bigger and bolder flavors that can cut through the complexity of many red wines. Of course, within the category of red wine, some reds pair better with particular foods and because of this, it is always worth checking which red wine goes with which meat.

This is the same for white wine. As white wines tend to be much lighter and fruitier, it makes sense that they are often paired with lighter flavors. Tending towards light meat (chicken and pork), fish, and salads, white wine can often complement rather than compete with these flavors. White wine flavors tend to be rooted in citrus and stone fruits that provide a delicate balance to most dishes. Again, look at your dish and research which particular white wine will go well with it.

Rose wines tend not to be paired with anything as they are not the traditional partners. However, this does not make it impossible. As they often share a similar taste profile to a white wine then following their food pairings is a safe bet. Salads, fish, or cheese dishes all go well with rose wine and can certainly be used similarly as white and red wines. It all comes down to getting nice bottles of wine rather than just bulk buying supermarket saver wines. If you are going to go through the effort of hosting a dinner party, it is worth investing in decent wines to pair with your food.

Buying wine for a party

It can be an intimidating and overwhelming task to buy wine for people who you don’t know or for a large group of people. However, you should be able to narrow your choices and be confident of them if you pair them with your food and have a wide selection of choices. Additionally, it never hurts to have a ridiculously sized bottle just waiting to be brought out for everyone to see.  

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