How To Pick Holiday Wines

Summer is finally coming to an end. As Phoenicians, nothing makes us happier than saying those words. Sure, the days are still creeping up in to the 90’s but where we can really see the break in the heat is in the early mornings and late evenings – it’s crisper, cooler. There is a change in the air and whether we like it or not, holiday season is upon us. Before we know it, we’ll be hosting our first party of the season. One question that always comes to mind is ‘What kind of wine can I serve to my guests that won’t break the bank but will still be a crowd pleaser?’

Lucky for you, membership has its privileges. As clients of Vinum 55, you have a team of sommeliers at your fingertips to help you pick out the perfect bottle! Start by asking yourself ‘How much do I want to spend per bottle?’. This will help you narrow down what you should even be considering. Don’t blow your budget on wine. There are some phenomenal options in the $15-$25 range that won’t leave you with buyer’s remorse. Next, figure out about how many guests you’ll have. You should account for 2-3 glasses of wine per guest. Some will drink less, some will drink more- this is just a general rule of thumb.

We recommend a ratio of 1/3 white wine to 2/3 red wine. More people drink red wine, that’s just the facts. That being said, play to your audience. If you have a group of wine lovers coming over, you could probably go 50/50 white to red as your attendees will appreciate the refreshing acidity offered by a lot of white wines. It acts as an intermezzo, a palate cleanser. Rose is also a great option, especially living in Arizona. Our mild winters allow us to continue enjoying this summer beverage long in to holiday season. Pro tip: Have some Rose around for Thanksgiving. It’s a great way to cut the heaviness that comes with the food served that day.

Next, you should decide what varietals you want to serve. We always recommend a sparkling. It’s a great way to start the night and end the night. It’s perfect for the holidays and celebrations just aren’t the same without it. We’re big fans of bubbles. It really is one of the most versatile wines out there. For white, Chardonnay is always a great option. We know, we know. Some people say they hate Chardonnay. The thing is, Chardonnay differs greatly based on where it comes from. In California, people are accustomed to a richer, oaked expression of the grape. On the other hand, Chardonnay coming from France, specifically Chablis, sees no oak and maintains a bright, crisp acidity and a beautiful salinity. We recommend the later, as it’s more approachable to the masses and more food friendly. For reds, you should pick one light and one full bodied wine. The obvious choice for a lighter bodied wine would be a Pinot Noir. However, that’s not your only option, impress your guests by serving them a Grenache or a Gamay. Both thin skinned grapes, light, fruity and easy drinking. For a full bodied red, people naturally gravitate towards a Cabernet Sauvignon. Instead, serve a killer Argentinian Malbec or a Dry Creek Zinfandel for a third of the price. Spice up the night by serving the wines in a blind bag. Prep the bartender to give a couple descriptive words about each wine and let the guests choose for themselves. This could be a great opportunity for someone to step out of their box and discover a new favorite!

At the end of the day, when you’re purchasing wine for an event the goal is to have the perfect balance of quantity and quality. We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again. You do not have to spend $100 on a bottle of wine to get something that overdelivers. Remember that your guests will appreciate you, not for the wine that you served, but for the hospitality they felt while enjoying that wine!