When you throw a dinner party, you’ll be faced with several pressures. What wine or wines do you serve? How much food should you have? How can you make sure that people have a great time at your party?
It may be the difference between throwing an epic party that your friends talk about for months or throwing one that they still talk about for months, but for all the wrong reasons.
Stop. Don’t panic. Breathe. And then read.
While we can’t help you master every aspect of a dinner party, we can help you become somewhat of an expert on how to handle wine at a party.
Read on for the five worst wine faux pas you can make at a dinner party – and what you can do instead to prove your wine expertise.
Not giving your guests a choice of wines to drink
You may have a red wine that you know you love. It pours beautifully, it complements your food, and it is the perfect amount of dry or sweet that you look for in a wine. You may also have invited several people who don’t like red wine and are looking for anything else to drink. Your favorite wine isn’t necessarily someone else’s.
Don’t limit yourself to just one color wine.
Make sure that you have good bottles of all different varieties – reds, whites, sparklings, rosés – for your guests. If you want them to try something specific with the meal, you can make that clear and have several bottles of that wine available for the meal. Otherwise, let them drink what they want.
Serving too much wine with not enough food
You don’t have to have taken a college calculus class to be able to solve that equation. Too much wine + not enough food = a lot of drunk party guests. You’ll want to nip that one in the bud.
It’s better to have too much than not enough. Start serving early and keep it coming.
When you’re planning your menu, plan for more guests than you know will attend. That way you’ll be sure that you have more than enough food for the guests you do have to enjoy. You’ll also want to make sure that you have a lot of appetizers, and that they’re out with the first round of drinks. Drinking too much is bad, but drinking too much on an empty stomach never ends well.
Not letting the wine breathe before you serve it – if the wine needs it
People who love their wine can tell the difference between a wine that has just been uncorked and a wine that has been allowed to breathe for a while after being uncorked. Allowing a wine to breathe can help to bring out the different flavor notes in the wine, really enhancing the flavor.
Understand the benefits of aerating wine, how to do it right, and which wines respond best to it.
Generally the aerating process benefits young red wines more than any other. The older the red wine, the less time it needs to aerate before being served. Likewise, a delicate white, a rosé, or a sparkling wine should be served immediately after removing the cork.
Putting too many glasses on the table
It is very true that different wines should be served in different glasses. However, if you serve several different kinds of wine at your party, which I’ve already noted is good for a host to do, the last thing you want to do is place different glasses out for each type of wine. It makes for a cluttered look and confused guests who might be afraid to embarrass themselves by pairing a wine with the wrong glass.
Put the right stemware out with the wine you’re serving for dinner and don’t worry about the rest.
If you’ve taken my advice and planned for a specific wine to serve that beautifully complements the delicious dinner you’re serving, you’ll want to make sure that the proper glass for that wine is at each place at the table. For the different wines that you serve with your appetizers or your dessert, a simple mid-sized wine glass will do just fine. The only exception is sparking wines. You’ll always want to serve those in a flute.
Filling the wine glass to the brim
Sure you want your guests to have a good time. Sure you want them to enjoy the great wine you picked out for them to drink. But the wrong way to achieve both of those goals is filling a wine glass up to its brim. No. Just, no.
Know what a standard serving is and what it looks like in a glass before your party starts.
The standard pour for a glass of wine is 5-6 oz. Depending on the size of the wine glass, the glass will be 1/3-1/2 filled. Keeping it that size allows the wine to breathe in your glass and the extra space gives the aromas from the wine a place to go. You’ll be able to get the full experience of the wine with every taste if you control how much you put in the glass.
Don’t be intimidated by this list. It seems long, but it’s not complicated. Before you throw your next party, take a quick look at this list and you’ll be able to avoid common faux pas and have an excellent experience. You got this.