Party Wines: Types of Wine for Parties
The thoughtful host has to remember when choosing wines for a party that his or her guests are likely to be drinking a fair quantity of wine without the softening accompaniment of food. Wines that are very dry and high in acid can be tough on the stomach in these circumstances and are best avoided for long-term drinking.
German wines can be very good for parties. They are low in alcohol and the better quality medium-dry ones, such as a Rhine Kabinett, Mosel Kabinett or Spatlese, have an attractive fruitiess without being sickly.
However, some people must drink French come what may. Alsace wines are Germanic in perfume yet dry and not too tart. The relatively inexpensive Pinot Blanc would make an excellent party wine though the wines of Alsace are not notably low in alcohol! The dry whites of southern Burgundy such as Macon Blanc and Pouilly-Fuisse are also sufficiently full-bodied to drink without food. Vinho Verde, eastern European whites and Austrian wines can also make good party lubricators. Red wines for parties should be very low in tannin. This makes Beaujolais and many C6tes-du-Rhone and other southern French wines good candidates. High-tannin wine can be relieved by meat and cheese.
For an ultra-casual drinks party, where snacks and nibbles are the only food served, litres of Mosel or a French full red cut down the precious socializing time spent opening bottles, and are just the style of white and red that are soft enough to enjoy sipping over a fairly long period of time. To transform a drinks party into something more sophisticated, serve a dryish French sparkling wine on its own, and also topped up with orange juice to turn it into the less alcoholic but equally partyish Buck’s Fizz. Sparkling wine can also be turned into a pretty pink, fruit-scented drink by adding a splash of fruit liqueur such as crème de Framboise, or even blackcurrant cordial.
It’s easy to give an Iberian flavour to a barbecue party by serving Vinho Verde with crudites – an assortment of bite-sized raw vegetables like carrots, celery, peppers, cucumber, cauliflower florets and tomatoes and a choice of dips and dressings. Vinho Verde can vary from bone dry to medium dry but always has a little sparkle that makes it a refreshing aperitif as well as a good partner for the fairly neutral flavours of the vegetables. Follow up with steaks, sausages and baked potatoes accompanied by Rioja. The earthy, roasted flavours of the meat should be well complemented by such a warm, toasty, countrified sort of wine.