How to choose wine for a party

Beautiful Kindness RocksWritten by Erica Landis

When I’m not writing blogs, being a mom, and overall superhero, I spend my time selling wine and spirits in a large retail store. The question I’m most frequently asked is...

“How do I choose wine for my party?!?!”

(insert panic-stricken customer voice here)

Choosing wine for a party can be scary. The old adage of "you can't please everyone" pops into your head. What will go with the food I'm serving? What about that wine snob couple that your husband invited?! How much is this going to cost me? Should I have hard liquor and beer too? How much should I buy? I don't even have that many wine glasses?!  Well, start by calming down. Let's start with the basics.


First, choose where you are going to shop. Is there a friendly local wine store that you know you'll get personalized help? Then go there! It will pay off in the long run with sanity preservation, even if you pay a few dollars more. But the liquor business is so competitive that there may not be much of a difference in price from the big warehouse stores. Another great reason to frequent your local guy.


Decide on your menu or theme. If you're having a Cinco de Mayo fiesta with lots of chips, salsa, pulled pork, and a make-your-own-taco bar, you'll find yourself choosing wine that works with spicy food. A fruity Spanish Garnacha or mix up a sweet, Riesling based white sangria. If it’s a classic Italian buffet with ricotta stuffed shells and baked ziti, Pinot Grigio and a juicy Tuscan blend will make your guests sing for more!


Don’t give too many choices. I’d suggest one white, one red, and maybe a sweet option for the sweet wine craze sweeping the nation. Your guests will no doubt be bringing bottles too. It’s ok to put those out for the more adventurous wine drinkers who like to try an assortment!


The most confusing part is most definitely how much to buy. A basic rule of thumb is that one 750ml wine bottle will give four generous glasses of wine. So one bottle per couple is a good start. If you go with magnum size bottles (1.5L) double those numbers. A good liquor store should be able to help you with calculations. In many cases, they may take back unused, unchilled wine. Always check out their policy and you may want to buy a few extra bottles just in case your party turns into a rager.


Beer is usually best with safe, familiar choices. Unless you have a craft beer crowd that wouldn’t even humor a Heineken or refreshing Corona and lime, go with simple light lagers and IPA’s. Again, you need to find the hipster kid with the awesome beard to help you in the beer department to really make an informed choice. Beer is a whole new adventure nowadays and you practically need a Sherpa to navigate it. I’d say one beer per person for every hour you anticipate the shin-dig to go on is a good estimate.


Hard liquor can become a money pit if you’re not careful. I’d say pick three main spirits at the most. Vodka, rum, gin, or tequila. Choose mid-level quality so you’re covered whether people are enjoying them straight or mixed.

So now you're ready. You've got this!

You are the host/hostest with the most/mostest.


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