Choosing a wine for entertaining can be similar to the daunting task of planning the menu. Just as you wouldn’t serve spicy Indian curry to your elderly aunt (unless you knew it was her favorite), the same goes for serving your rare vintage French wine to your beer-drinking friend. Selecting the right wines to buy for your guests entails only knowing a little more about them.
Vegetarians and vegans. It’s important to commit as much forethought of the wine you serve as the food when it comes to entertaining vegetarian friends. Finding these wines is becoming easier, with many companies clearly stating on labels if the wine is suitable for vegetarians or vegans (vegetarian V, vegan VG).
- 2009 Bonterra Vineyards Chardonnay, California (about $16 retail)
- NV Laurent Perrier Champagne, France (about $68 retail)
The Neophyte. Entertaining guests who are just learning about wines is not the time to bring out vintage or quirky oddball wines. Choose uncomplicated wines enjoyed by nearly all wine drinkers such as merlot, shiraz, chardonnay or pinot grigio.
- 2009 Yalumba Y Series Shiraz, Australia (about $12 retail)
- 2008 Robert Mondavi Chardonnay, California (about $20 retail)
Snobs vs. connoisseurs. Believe it or not, the connoisseurs are easier to please than most wine snobs. They usually tend to enjoy wines that are undervalued, unique or even adventurous. If you enjoy the wine you are serving, the connoisseur most likely will relish in your selection.
Wine snobs, on the other hand, can be the most tiresome guests to entertain because they are usually label and brand conscious — and dreadfully suspicious of wines they have not tasted. The best tip is to stay with easily recognizable wines such as Napa cabernet sauvignon or chardonnay, French Chablis, French Chateauneuf-du-Pape, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or Oregon or Burgundy Pinot Noir.
- 2008 Montinore Estate Pinot Noir, Oregon (about $15 retail)
- 2009 Joseph Drouhin Grand Cru Chablis, France (about $29 retail)
The foodie. Foodies are generally looking for how the food and wine complement each other. When entertaining these guests, use your culinary strength to give the wines an opportunity to stand out. If you make superb Italian pasta, read up on Italian wines, but if French cuisine is your specialty, then French Bordeaux or Burgundies may be the perfect option. An easy tip is to choose wines that are local to the cuisine.
- 2009 Voga Pinot Grigio, Italy (about $12 retail)
- 2006 Banfi Chianti Classico, Italy (about $18 retail)