How to Pick Wine for a Group—Without Anxiety

It's official—the holiday season is here in full force! You're likely attending or throwing a few holiday gatherings, which might entail picking out wine for a group. For legitimate reasons, people feel very anxious when selecting a bottle of wine to either take to or serve at a party or dinner. I've been there, too... standing in the liquor store, staring at rows of wine, wondering "will they like the one I pick?" (Believe me, there's even more pressure when you're a wine blogger!) But it doesn't have to be a stressful endeavor. To pick out wine(s) that your guests will love, remember purpose, audience, and budget.

Know the Gathering's Purpose

You wouldn't pick out the same wines for a wine tasting and a rager, would you? Likewise, don't select a fancy dinner wine for a holiday house party with a beer pong tournament. If the purpose of the party is to get plastered, lower your wine standards and save yourself some aggravation and money.

Know Your Audience

Your grandmother who still drinks Chianti out of a fiasco might not appreciate the same thing as your buddies from your Fantasy Football league. Even if your audience isn't super into wine, think about what they do like. Artsy crowd? Pick up any varietal you haven't heard of before. (Portugal is good for that.) Sports lovers? Pinot Grigio is like light beer. Your barre class? Natural wine to keep hangovers at bay for their morning workout.

Know Your Budget

If your budget is modest, don't go into party planning with Champagne expectations. Select the ideal type that you would serve and then dial it down a notch so that you can afford to buy enough for your group. Can't afford Barolo to serve 10? Go with Barbera or Dolcetto. Heart set on Champagne? There are plenty of great alternatives.

Be the perfect dinner party host with the right wine!

Some Example Scenarios

Dinner with Your Business Associate
Did your boss, colleague, or business partner invite you and/or your significant other over for dinner? Are they coming to your place? Select a red wine for about $30. It shows you care to select something nice but you're also not breaking the bank if they happen to hate wine. I suggest Pinot Noir since it will likely go with whatever is being served.

Holiday Party Pre-Game
With my friends and colleagues, the pre-game is just as fun as the party! To get the celebration started, go with sparkling wine. Don't splurge for Champagne because everyone will probably be trying to catch a solid buzz (aka chugging) before heading to the main event. For about $15, you can get a respectable Cava, Crémant, or Prosecco.

Gift Exchange Party
Or as my friends call it, "girls' night"—an evening of exchanging gifts and drinking like fish. With all the chatting, sipping, and snacking, no one pays close attention to the nuances in their wine. But they are my friends and I'm not going to let them drink shitty wine either! When I hang out with them, I like to employ the French concept of glou-glou with quaffers like Muscadet and Beaujolais.
Glou-glou (n./adj.): French term for refreshing wine. Vin de soif is also used for thirst-quenching wine.
Holiday Beer Pong Tournament
Literally, pick up a magnum of Pinot Grigio. It's going to be hot, there will be shots, you're going to want something cold, and there's not going to be any room in the fridge among the Bud Lights. Solution? Pinot Grigio in a red cup with ice. I have done the leg work and can promise you that this is the best route.

Mixed Gathering of Your Significant Other's Friends
Your boyfriend's buddy's new girlfriend decided she wants to meet the gang so "could everyone please come over for drinks and apps on Saturday?!" You've never met this woman, you have no clue what she likes, and your boyfriend is equally clueless ("uhhh, I think they met on Hinge or something?). Without hesitation, rosé.

Got a scenario you need help with? Leave a comment or contact me!

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