The winter holidays are a time to host family gatherings, dinners, and cocktail parties in honor of the season. Wine and conversation will be flowing freely as we celebrate with relatives and friends, but if you’re a novice host it can be intimidating as you navigate the world of wine. There are many factors involved in the choosing and serving of wine, but once you learn about them the process suddenly becomes less frightening. This port will walk you through how to choose wine for holiday parties.
How to Decide between Red and White Wine
Whether you serve red or white wine at a holiday party should depend on the food you are serving. White wines are more delicate in flavor, so they should be served with mild food like seafood, chicken, turkey, and pork. Red wines are much bolder; they are suited for heartier dishes such as beef or pasta with tomato-based sauces.
Once you narrow it down to red or white, there are many varieties of each to choose from. If you prefer white wine, you can choose from the light-bodied Pinot Grigio to the fuller-bodied Chardonnay, with Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc between those two ends of that spectrum.
As for red wine, the fulless ranges from Pinot Noir to Shiraz, with Merlot, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon being somewhere in the middle. It all depends on the flavor you are looking for, so please ask questions at your local wine shop. They are always happy to help you pick the right wine for the right occasion or for holiday gifts.
How to Serve Wine Properly
One of the keys to a perfect glass of wine is serving it at the correct temperature. It has been said that red wine should be served at room temperature, but that is based on a thermostat set at about 60 degrees. Since you most likely keep your house warmer than an average wine cave, your wine should be cooled off for a little while in an ice bucket until it reaches the proper temperature.
The perfect temperature for white wine is 50 degrees. Since most refrigerators are set between 40 and 45 degrees, you will need to set your bottle out until it warms up enough. Temperatures affect the taste of the wine, so it’s important to find the point at which your beverage tastes best.
How to Open a Bottle of Wine
When it’s time to uncork your wine, cut away the foil or wax overlay that both protects the cork from dirt and the mouth of the bottle from chipping. Invest in a quality corkscrew since some of the cheaper ones can bend or get stuck in your bottle. Follow the directions on your particular corkscrew.
As you pull the cork out keep the bottle steady and remove the cork smoothly. It’s fine if some small pieces of the cork remain in the bottle. You can always remove them from your glass with a spoon and the cork does not affect the wine’s flavor.
As you pour the wine into your guest’s glass, only fill it about a third of the way. Filling it to the top does not leave room to swirl the wine around, necessary to release the full flavor and aroma. Take the time to truly enjoy and savor your wine — and your guests.
How Much Wine to Buy for a Party
When you are planning your party, one of the most important decision is how much wine to purchase. Guests usually have two glasses of wine the first hour of the event and one glass for every hour after that. Make your wine purchasing decision based on how many people are present, how long the party will last, and an average wine bottle containing about 5 servings.
For a four-hour party with six people present, you can plan serving 12 glasses of wine the first hour and six glasses for each of the remaining three hours. 12+6+6+6=30 glasses. 30/5 = 6 bottles of wine. In this case, it’s recommended to purchase three bottles of red wine and three bottles of white. Typically, guests prefer white wine and red wine equally. Use this handy drink calculator to plan your party.
Plan ahead and then rest assured that your guests will have a great time at your holiday event. The most important part is just being together — plus wine!