Planning for a Party with Wine

Throwing a party? Having a baby shower? Planning a going-away party for a co-worker, or a summer work BBQ or picnic? Wine is a key component of any celebration. You can have sweet wines, sparkling wines, red wines for meals, and anything and everything in between!

The first question people tend to ask is, how much wine should I get! To begin, a serving of wine is 5 oz. Whether you're mixing up a sangria or buying bottles of wine, take the total volume of liquid on hand and divide out by 5oz. That gets you the number of servings you have available.

You figure a person can probably drink one of these servings every half hour, so to figure out what volume you need, multiply the number of people times the length of your party in half hours and you've got a rough idea. I highly recommend having a lot of non-alcoholic drinks on hand (including water) and trying to transition people over to the non-alcoholic stuff before they head out. It takes the human body about an hour to process a single drink, so they usually need an hour or two of NOT drinking alcohol before they're ready to drive. Maybe find a way to have the evening end with coffee, tea and desserts.

I find it's good to assume you have 20% White Zinfandel drinkers, 30% white wine (Chardonnay), 30% red wine (Cabernet), and 20% of other things.

The next question people wonder about are how to pair wines. I have many pairing pages, linked at the bottom of this page, but in general you go light-to-heavy just like when you plan a meal. Start with whites, move to heavier whites and reds, and end with sweet dessert wines.

You tend to start with white wines and cheese pairings, and perhaps something with a light red - say a bacon/scallop thing with a Beaujolais. If you move on to a real meal, you'd pair the wines with foods as appropriate (again, see below).

How about a Champagne toast? Again, 5 oz is a pretty good toasting glass. So maybe 5-6 glasses per bottle of Champagne, and figure from there. Don't go for the cheap stuff - there is a huge difference in taste when it comes to sparkling wines between the low end and even middle end. California is creating some fantastic sparkling wines right now which are great tasting but not as expensive as French Champagnes.

If you're looking for current wine recommendations, visit our Wine Forums for advice!

Wine and Food Pairings
Wine and Cheese Pairings
Wine & Health
Champange Toasts
Wine Basics Main Page

Champagne Pairings and Reviews


Champagne History and Information