WINE 101

Party Hosting 101: Which Wines to Serve and When

Whether the party will include a formal dinner or be a more casual affair, having wine on hand is something every host should consider. Choosing wines and knowing when to serve them can cause a great deal of angst. Fortunately, the process is not as difficult as many people think. Here are some tips that will aid in the wine selection and when to make them available to the guests.

Something to Enjoy Before Dinner

Many people like the idea of having a glass of wine before they sit down to the dinner table. At this point in the party, the best approach is to have a variety of white and red wines that the guests can choose. The fact that there is a nice selection will help the guests feel more comfortable, and provide the opportunity to relax and socialize a little before the dinner is served. Choosing to buy sparkling wine of two or three different types is a nice way to start the evening.

What to Use at the Table

The entrée is the determining factor when it comes to choosing the right table wine. When in doubt, an entrée with a red meat should be paired with some type of red wine. If the entrée happens to be fish, opting for a white wine is a good idea.

There is some difference of opinion of what to serve with other types of meat entrees. For example, there is one school of thought that dictates only red wines should be served with any type of pork. That includes pork chops. Others believe that a delicate white wine that does not detract from the flavour of the entrée will work equally well. A nice compromise is to buy rose wine of the right vintage for those less common entrees.

If the entrée happens to contain ingredients that go equally well with reds and whites, it won’t hurt to offer guests multiple choices. For the dinner wines, do consider going with something that is a little dryer and less sweet. That will allow the flavours of the entrée and the accompanying side dishes to stand out.

How About After Dinner?

Before setting out to buy dessert wine, it pays to know that this type of wine is normally made using grapes that are sweeter than the varieties used for other wines. This is important, since the level of sweetness needed to enhance the experience depends on what type of dessert is served.

When the dessert itself relies mainly on the natural sweetness of the ingredients, opting for a dessert wine that is sweeter makes sense. If the offering happens to include a great deal of sugar in the recipe, try to go with a semi-sweet dessert wine. The latter will not clash with the taste of the dessert and be more pleasing for the guests.

The main thing to remember about choosing wines for a party is to focus on the preferences of the guests. A gracious host is less concerned about what experts have to say and more concerned with ensuring everyone is comfortable and enjoys the evening. Keep more than one type of wine on hand to serve at different times during the evening and it will be difficult to go wrong.

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