- I buy what I like. Most of the time I don’t necessarily know what my guests like to drink. I may have some general ideas, but rarely know specifics. And even if I do, it’s even harder to please everyone. Joe likes chardonnay, but Carey likes riesling. Do you buy both? Something in the middle (whatever that means)? Or throw your hands up and decide that everyone will just have to drink seltzer? By buying what I like to drink, not only do I make sure that the host is happy--’cause that’s important too--but I end up with something that has a reason for being there. For example, at our most recent Garden Party Date Night I went with some rosé, always enjoyable on a warm summer evening, a Corsican white blend, something I had tried not too long ago and found incredibly quaffable plus there is a sentimental connection to Corsica, and a barbera from Piedmont, another sentimental connection; all of which are wines that I would drink myself.
- I buy what I know. Parties are not the time to try some obscure grape you may have just learned about from your favorite wine site or geeky wine friend. Stick with something you’re familiar with. Now the wines that I’m familiar with may be different than the wines you’re familiar with, so it’s not fair of me to suggest specific wine styles. Case in point, for my birthday party I chose (again) some rosé but also a great Xarel-lo. While some of you may recognize that grape--bravo to you, and if we’re not friends we should be--it’s far from the standard white wine that most people think of. But I chose it because I knew it would go great with the menu and would be an easy drinker. But I only knew that because I had tasted this wine before.
- I buy what I can afford. At the end of the day you have to think about your budget, too. While I’d love to drink a great Napa cabernet or white Burgundy all night long, that’s not always feasible, especially if there’s a lot of people. For most parties, I try and keep it in the $12-$15 range knowing that I can find some great wine at this price point that I have no problem drinking--and I know my friends won’t either. Occasionally I’ll up the ante a bit or buy one or two special bottles to share with people I know might appreciate it.
- I buy simple. Variety may be the spice of life, but it can be confusing at a party. A general rule of thumb is to buy one white and one red, and maybe a rosé. I tend to steer clear of buying too many different styles or varieties. Someone may love cabernet sauvignon, but if you’ve only got merlot, guess what? They’ll drink it anyway.
- I buy what's appropriate. Of course, I like wine, but not everyone does. So I usually buy a little beer as well, depending on who’s going to be there. The rule I use for figuring out amounts is simple: one drink per person per hour. That’s an average so you’re bound to have people who drink more, but also people who drink less. And that’s a total for both beer and wine. The ratio between the two varies by the crowd so that’s for you to decide. At my birthday party we had four bottles of wine (five glasses per bottle), a case and a half of beer, and even some cider. And don’t be afraid to ask people to bring something to drink. Beer and wine are meant to be shared--you weren’t going to drink that whole six pack were you?--so it’s a great way to let people bring something they know they’ll enjoy.
So if you've got a party coming up, or if you're already getting ready for the holidays, I'd love to help you pick out just the right bottle of wine. Leave a comment or send me an email and let me know how I can help.