Hosting and Toasting
What to serve:
Don’t overwhelm people with choices. Go with one red, one white, and one sparkling. “Some people want a brand—they want people to know what they bought, especially if it’s expensive,”
Harris says. But, he notes, there are deals to be had if you’re willing to explore past the cabs and pinots you know.
For large parties, go with a “restaurant wine” —meaning one that doesn’t need air time to open up. Notes Harris: “At a party, if a wine takes 15 minutes to open up, a guest is already on the second glass.” Harris recommends some of his favorites:
• Borsao Tres Picos Garnacha 2013, $16 (Spain)
• Wines of Substance Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, $20 (Washington State)
• JJ Vincent Bourgogne Blanc Chardonnay 2013, $18 (Burgundy, France)
• Terlan Pinot Grigio 2014, $22 (Italy)
• Pol Roger Brut NV Champagne, $55 (Champagne, France)
• Naveran Cava Dama 2013, $20 (Spain)
How much to buy:
Generally, you can count on one glass of wine per person, per hour. “But take into consideration if this a light, teetotaler crowd or a heavy-drinking crowd,” Harris says. A case of wine equals 60 single servings, so do the math.
The worst thing you can do is run out. Be generous with your estimates. Buy wines you like so you won’t mind polishing off the leftovers.
How much to spend:
This is entirely personal and will likely depend on how many people you’re hosting. For a party,
Harris recommends aiming for the $13-$25 a bottle range, where you can get a good drink without breaking the bank.
Reds should be served just below room temperature, between 60 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Whites should be a chilly 40 to 50 degrees. Need to get a bottle cold quickly? Fill a cooler with ice water and submerge the bottles. They’ll be ready to pour within 15 minutes.
Get Invited Back
When bringing wine as a host gift, put some thought into your selection. If you know the host well, bring a wine that matches his or her interests. If they love to cook, for instance, Harris suggests bringing an exotic dessert wine:
Nieport Vintage 2007 Port, $80 (Spain)
Domaine de Durban Muscat de Beaumes de Venise 2010, $20 (France)
If you don’t know your host well, Harris says your safest bet is to bring a bottle of red, as it’s what most people drink. Bordeaux and Burgundies are especially impressive.
Chateau Croix de Labrie Saint-Emilion Grand Cru 2010, $125 (Bordeaux, France)
Chateau Gloria Saint-Julien 2010, $70 (Bordeaux, France)
Lieu Dit Cabernet Franc 2013, $29 (California)
Or go for a sparkling style, which feels festive for the holidays but is appropriate year-round.
La Grande Dame by Veuve Clicquot 2004, $160 (Champagne, France)
Ruinart Brut Blanc de Blanc NV, $70 (Champagne, France)
Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs Vintage 2012, $33 (California)