Wine For A Crowd

November 27 00:00 2002 Print This Article

When a big celebration comes along, wine is a necessity. But even if youre totally comfortable choosing a bottle of wine for yourself, buying ten bottles or ten cases is a whole different thing. Here are some tips on doing it right:

Keep it simple. Pick one wine that will appeal to most everybody and harmonize with the food youre serving. It should be young, fruity, food-friendly and not too tart. A light-bodied red, like grenache or inexpensive pinot noir, served slightly chilled, works with almost any menu or buffet. If your guests dont drink wine often, a white wine with a bit of sweetness, like off-dry riesling or chenin blanc, will probably please them. In any case, dont feel obligated to offer several wines.

Keep it inexpensive. Wine doesnt need to cost a lot to serve its most important purposes: enhancing food and creating a festive atmosphere. Plenty of delicious wines even sparkling wines are available for less than $10.

Buy the right amount. Eyeball the guest list and count the kids and abstainers, so you get a good sense of how many people will actually be drinking. As a general rule, you can figure five glasses per bottle of wine (about 60 glasses per case). People will usually drink more wine in the evening than the afternoon, and more Friday or Saturday night than Sunday. If its hot and the partys outdoors, expect consumption to go way down.

Consider using actual wine glasses. Truth is, you can drink wine out of anything from a Dixie cup to fine crystal and still enjoy it. But if youre going to bother to buy nice wine, then it will show off to best advantage in glass. You can rent glasses inexpensively from any party supply store. For just a few dollars more, you can buy glasses by the case from a restaurant supplier for about $2 each (check the Yellow Pages). If you entertain often, thats a smart move.

Consult a wine specialist. Your local wine merchant or supermarket wine steward is an expert at estimating how much youll need and helping you find the best wines for the occasion. Most wine merchants give a discount of at least 10 percent on cases of wine.

Dont get stressed out. Big events can be a headache anyway, so theres no point in letting your choice of wine make things worse. Its comforting to remember that unless your guests are real wine buffs, most of them wont pay a lot of attention to what theyre drinking, but instead will be focused on enjoying your event.

Heidi Yorkshire is the author of Simply Wine: How to Choose Good-Value Wines to Enjoy Every Day and Wine Savvy: The Simple Guide to Buying and Enjoying Wine Anytime, Anywhere, and the wine columnist for The Oregonian. A Certified Wine Educator, Heidi teaches wine classes around the United States. Her home is in Portland, Oregon. This article appears courtesy of WineAnswers.

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