Entertaining 101: How To Buy Wine For a Party

Leah Bourne

One of the most important elements to any party is, naturally, the wine. Of course, figuring out what kind of wine to serve, how much to buy, and what wine pairs well with what food can be a challenge. Here, we are answering the questions that have come up for everyone who ever hosted a party, well, ever. You can thank us by inviting us to your next fete.
How much should you buy?
Figure that one bottle of wine will pour five to six glasses. If you are hosting a dinner party where people will mostly be drinking wine, assume that each of your guests will consume about three glasses each (heavy drinkers and light drinkers tend to even each other out in this regard). Always buy a couple of extra bottles to have on standby too—just in case.
Should you offer red and white?
It can be seriously hard to predict what kinds of wines your guests will prefer. When you are selecting white opt for a Pinot Gris or Chardonnay and with red Pinot Noir from Burgundy, Syrah from Chile and Cabarnet Sauvignon from France—none of which will overwhelm the food. When guests arrive opt to serve sparkling wine, which is a festive way to begin an event.
If you want to get serious about wine pairings, what wine pairs well with what food?
These are the rules of thumb to live by: sweet foods pair well with sweet wines, acidic foods pair well with acidic wines, rich foods pair well with rich wines, light foods pair well with light wines, and intense foods pair well with intense wines.
Some examples—chocolate and port go well together, salad tossed with vinaigrette and Sauvignon Blanc is a good pairing, a steak pairs well with Syrah, and pasta with Pinot Grigio is a good choice.
Bear in mind that it is not necessarily always the case that red wine only goes with meat and white wine goes with fish. Salmon (a rich fish) pairs perfectly with Pinot Noir.
What kind of wine glasses should you use?
As long as you aren’t hosting a seriously formal dinner it is perfectly alright to use only one kind of glass. If you are just serving red, opt for a glass with a bigger bowl which allows for more aeration and swirling space. White wines on the other hand need a smaller bowl to keep the wine cooler.
What wine should you bring as a hostess gift? 
Think about the kind of wines that your host likes, and buy accordingly. If you don’t know if your host likes red or white get one of each from the same winery. Or take note of where your host has traveled to recently, or where they want to travel to, and bring an example of wine from that region’s varietals. If you are attending a themed celebration, like a Spanish fiesta, opt to bring a wine that will fit the theme.

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