Secrets to a Successful Dinner Party, Part IV

The lineup (well, most of it), from a recent dinner party where attendees all brought a bottle,
The lineup (well, most of it), from a recent dinner party where attendees all brought a bottle,

By now the super successful dinner party is in full force. Appetizers, welcome drinks, and dinner. But what to drink? I generally serve water and wine. Simple enough, right? Seriously, it is not that bad, don’t worry.

I am obsessed with my Soda Stream, and think it is quite possibly the best gadget ever invented. It requires no electricity and crates fizzy water at the touch of a button. But, if I only served water at dinner (or brunch, or lunch…), my friends would wonder what was going on. Then there is the wine.

Choosing a wine does not have to be scary. I know there are a lot of choices, and a lot of different price points, but your best bet is to befriend someone at your local wine shop and let them know what you are serving, and how much you want to spend. Depending on the crowd, you will want 1/2 – 1 bottle per person. You can also save yourself the trouble of pairing, and ask people to bring wine. That is perfectly OK.

This is a very, very loose list of some of my favorite pairings, and should give you a framework for what to look for a the wine shop:

  • Sushi – Champagne, Prosecco or Cava
  • Salmon – Pinot Noir is a classic choice. You can’t go wrong with that one.
  • Other fish – It really depends on the sauce. Butter sauce, try a Chardonnay, or a crisp Sauvignon Blanc. For a tomato based sauce try a Chianti (Sangiovese) or other Italian wine.
  • Beef – Cabernet Sauvignon or Bordeaux blends.
  • Lamb – Syrah, or┬áSyrah-based wines.
  • Chicken – well, pretty much anything goes here. It also depends on how it is cooked, and what kind of sauce you make.
  • Cheeses – can pair nicely with either bold red wines, or port.

The moral of the story is two-fold. Number 1, don’t be afraid to ask for help at the wine shop. They may not always sell you something you like, but having some guidance is probably a good thing. Number 2, the above suggestions are just that. Suggestions. These are not hard and fast rules. Drink what you like. Eat what you like. Enjoy.

Oh, and let me know how your dinner party turns out!