If there is one time of the year when I strive to save time, cut corners and get organized it is the rush of December. My goal is to eliminate the stress and enjoy the celebration. One way to achieve this is by keeping a few entertaining tips and wine recommendations handy.
Getting the party started. During hors d’oeuvres is the perfect time to open a bottle of bubbly. Sparkling wine pairs with a wide range of flavors and textures and can handle anything from light and airy sweets to baked, grilled or even deep-fried appetizers.
- NV Roederer Anderson Valley Brut, California (about $22 retail)
- 2007 Domaine Carneros Brut, California (about $32 retail)
Mixing it up. Classic wine-based crowd-pleasers such as sangria, mimosas and kir royals are ideal for easy entertaining. They can be mixed ahead and set out in pitchers for guests to serve themselves and, best of all, are refreshing for almost any menu. Remember when buying the wine, this is not the place to splurge because it will be blended with other ingredients for the final mixture.
- NV Seaview Brut Sparkling Wine, Australia (about $11 retail)
- 2009 Gnarly Head Zinfandel, California (about $12 retail)
Keeping it casual. For large drop-in parties I always recommend finding a bargain and keeping it simple. It isn’t that our guests are not deserving of expensive cellared bottles or unique oneof-a-kind styles, but an open house isn’t the best setting for showcasing these gems.
- 2010 Rosemount Estate Chardonnay, Australia (about $11 retail)
- 2011 Honig Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, California (about $17 retail)
Boxed and Ready to Serve. Some people accept boxed wines while others still sneer at the thought. But large gatherings are the time for savings, convenience and practical ideas. With easy cleanup and almost 20 glasses per liter box there’s an easy solution: If you would rather a box not be visible on your beverage table, transfer the wine to old-style glass decanters and give it a festive presentation.
- 2010 The Big House White, California (3 liters, about $19 retail)
- 2010 Bota Box Old Vine Zinfandel, California (3 liters, about $20 retail)