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Serving Wine at Holiday Parties

Written by Jennifer Jordan
Filed Under: Wine Lifestyle

Hosting a party can bring about a great deal of stress. You may find this true for any kind of party, but it seems to be particularly true for a party thrown around the holidays. For some reason, the holidays are a time when parties aspire to be a little grander; they need to have tastier food, more elegant alcohol, and those who are hosting it need to wear red and call each other by names like, "Dearest."

While a holiday party is something you will likely want to throw well - hoping to impress your friends, your relatives, and your next door neighbor whose front lawn animatronics nativity scene makes your decorations look inferior - you will also want to save some room on your credit cards for all your holiday shopping.

This may seem to pose a bit of a problem, as if you are forced to make the choice of throwing a great party or buying presents for your children, children who - as they contact social services and attempt to get on Oprah - probably won't be too forgiving if the holiday season finds you empty handed. However, throwing a great party doesn't have to drain your bank account; there are ways to have a party that is both festive and frugal. Because alcohol is generally one of the most pricy party expenses, buying wisely is the first step in throwing a party that will leave both your social circle, and your children, still talking to you.

Have a Variety
Some people are under the impression that hosting a party involves purchasing the most expensive wine they can find, wine that would impress even the most seasoned connoisseur. However, when it comes down to it, the price of wine is not nearly as important as the variety.

Holiday parties typically consist of a large spread of food. From the pate to the cheese balls, the months of November and December are like a giant buffet. Because of this, it's important to cover your bases and purchase wine that is adaptable, wine that all types of food consider "easy to get along with." The simplest way to do this is to cover all your bases by purchasing both red wine and white wine.

For red wine, Merlots, Shiraz, and Cabernets are all good choices, with white wine's best bet being Chardonnay, though a nice Alsatian Riesling is also a great choice. While there are certain vintages that are expensive, it's relatively easy to find bottles that aren't extremely high priced; with some searching, or asking the clerk at the local liquor store for help, you can buy red and white wines that won't take away your ability to go holiday shopping, leaving you, ultimately, to holiday shoplift instead.

Serve White Zinfandel
When choosing a wine to serve at a party, White Zinfandel is an extremely popular choice. This is simply because people drink it up. A chilled beverage, White Zinfandel is light, sweet and low in alcohol content, which makes it a popular choice for folks who are driving. One of the least inexpensive, with many bottles costing around five dollars, White Zinfandel is a preferred choice of many party hosts everywhere.

A Box is Your Friend

There is an unfavorable stigma attached to box wine, like lawyers or people obsessed with Dungeons and Dragons. But, box wine is often a party staple. This is because it's inexpensive, it's convenient, the leftovers won't spoil, and even if you don't enjoy the taste of it, many others do.

Box wine was once the laughing stock of the wine world: people often equated it with cheap wine, it was only purchased by those who had a cash flow problem, and cases of Pinot Noirs were often found pointing and laughing, mocking the box wine from the comfort of their glass bottles. However, over the years this stigma has gone down the drain, and the box wine of today now stores a variety of wine, including wines that are premium.

Appease the Wine Folk
While White Zinfandel and box wine may quench the thirst of some, many wine connoisseurs prefer something a little different, believing that drinking anything other than a unique holiday wine is the equivalent of drinking from the water bowl in the Christmas tree stand. Because of this, it's a good idea to have a couple of bottles of something a little interesting.

A fun holiday wine that is great to serve at a party is the Lady Bug Red Cuvee V. Not only is it visually appealing - as it comes in a bottle with a green label and lady bugs all over it - but the flavors are wonderfully fruity, containing a combination of blackberry, plum, cocoa, oak, and pepper. The wine, made up of Zinfandel, Carignane, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon, is sure to satisfy a wide range of wine lovers.

Take People Up on Their Offers
It is etiquette for those attending a party to offer to bring something - a casserole, a plate of cookies, a spinach dip. While you may have trouble accepting this gesture, thinking that you should be the one to generate all the party goods, keep in mind that many people who offer to bring something typically really want to.

People enjoy showing their gratitude and when they are able to contribute to a party, they feel as if they are given the opportunity to do just that. If a person asks you if they can bring anything, and you are stressing over the drink selection, simply request that they bring a bottle of wine. This not only assures that they will bring something they enjoy, but it also allows you to subtly shrug your shoulders and point your finger in their direction if others do not like it. That, after all, is what friends are for.

Holiday parties can be hard to plan. But, with the above tips, you should at least have the wine list taken care of, leaving you free to worry about food and decor instead.

More than anything, when it comes this time of year, keep in mind that the wine you serve at your holiday party shouldn't be that important: the holidays are a time for camaraderie, family, and love, three entities that not even the most expensive vintage can ever rival.