The Wandering Wino Blog

Party Wine

Party Wines

Having a party? You want to have wine but don't want to break the bank? I know, but you still want something that is respectable right? If low cost is your yard stick, then not a problem, but you may need to think outside of what you normally drink. Your dollar can be stretched much farther if you are willing to be flexible. 

It will be impossible to cover everything but I'll share some guidelines that may help the masses. Who are your guests and what are they accustomed to drinking? Everyone coming knows its a party and doesn't expect 1961 Bordeaux flowing from the fountain, but there can still be an element of varience. Lots of white or red wine drinkers? Is it really hot outside/inside?  Then buy less reds, and consider Rose and more whites such as Reisling or Pinot Gris. White wines are general less expensive. Also consider if you are serving food or not and what type to pair. No food, then don't offer big heavy red wines. Yes, despite my personal issues that have required years of therapy, I have purchased white zinfandel because I knew I had a couple guests that would want it. 

Are you having an Hors d'oeuvre type party? Consider offering lighter white wines or a Sparkling Wine first with light foods. Riesling is often a great option when offering spicy foods. Then as you move on to heavier foods like heavy sauces and meats, you can transition to reds.Sangiovese goes perfect with acidic foods such as Italian or even pizza.Try to avoid wines that will over power your foods. Pinot Noir is an excellent option that pairs easily with many foods and drinks nicely alone. A Sparkling wine or Prosecco can also be a great option for sweet treats, fruits, and desserts. These are always on sale in stores during December, so if you know ahead of time, not a bad time to stock up. Remember people follow the food, so if you want them outside, put the food there. If you want them to move around and mingle, then spread it out into different rooms. 

Try to avoid waste by keeping your selection limited. I would suggest keeping it to no more than three or four different wines. For that one guy you keep thinking about for whatever reason that is coming that he only drinks Cabernet or he is a wine snob or blah blah blah. OK, if you are that concerned with that one guy and what he thinks, then buy him his own bottle and tell him so he feels special. That way when someone else drinks it, at least he knew you thought of him.Now lets get back to the party.

Here are some general regions and varietals to consider for great bangs for the buck.

  • Argentina - Torrontes (white) and Malbec (red)
  • Chilean - Carmenere (red) 
  • Austrailia - Shiraz (red) (Often spicy wine good with meats and spicy foods)
  • Ca Lodi/Amador County Red Zin (Great for BBQ Foods)
  • Spanish Rioja/Tempranillo's - often easy drinking/pairing wines
  • Caste Rock Winery (CA) - Pinot Noir pairs with anything and they offer amazing value wines 

Here are just a few solid values by name:

  1. Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling
  2. Cline Viognier
  3. Banrock Station Chardonnay
  4. Bodgea Norton Malbec
  5. Terrazas Malbec
  6. Caparone Zinfandel/Sangiovese
  7. Pillar Box Red
  8. Oreana Project Happiness (Syrah)
  9. Penfolds Shiraz
  10. Los Rochas Garnacha
  11. Jual Gil Temranillo
  12. Castle Rock Pinot Noir or anything they produce

Have a little something left in the budget for $35 or less?

  • Ken Brown Sta Rta Hills CA Chardonnay 
  • Saarloos & Sons Ballard Canyon CA (Santa Ynez) Grenache Blanc
  • Ampleos Sta Rita Hills CA Pinot Noir
  • Ridge Santa Cruz CA Grenache
  • Zenaida Paso Robles Wonderlust (Grenache/Syrah/Mourvedre) 
  • Ravenswood Sonoma Teldeschi Zinfandel
  • Andrew Murray Paso Robles CA Syrah

If people show up to your party and they are hungry, human nature is to consume more wine if no food is readily available. Consider having food already out when your guests arrive. In considering how much people will drink so you know how much to buy, the easy answer is buy a lot and keep the store receipt. Or take some things into play such as, most people drink less on week nights and during the daytime, and visa versa. On average your guests will not likely consume more than 3 glasses of wine or a little more than a half bottle. Keep extras on hand to keep your party going! In the words of Keith Saarlooos, "drink like a king (or Queen) and party like a criminal! Thanks Orly for the honor of this post! See great party food ideas at


  • orly @yumivore
    Posted Wednesday 25 May 2011 02:58
    Thanks Shawn for the great tips, and especially crafting this post in time for launching! Raising a glass, cheers!
  • kenyanwinebrat
    Posted Monday 20 June 2011 07:09
    Thanks for your wine recommendation.

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