If you are reading this column today you are in one of two stages of your Christmas celebration. You are drinking port while watching your favorite Christmas movies or you are scurrying around with a checklist of last minute gifts and entertaining items to find. For those taking the high road of enjoying the day in slumber and relaxation, I commend you. For those in panic mode, here are a few quick tips for ensuring libations will flow.
Stocking the bar. If you are trying to calculate how much wine to buy, don’t be afraid to overbuy. A safe rule of thumb is one 750-milliliter bottle (an average wine bottle) will equal about five (5-ounce) glasses. Most guests will consume two drinks during the first hour of the event and one drink during each subsequent hour. If your celebration includes wine, beer and spirits, a general rule is 50 percent of people will prefer wine, 30 percent beer and 20 percent mixed drinks. You can never buy too much, just save the excess for your next gathering. And remember, running out of drinks, just as with food, can swiftly change a festive mood.
Be a gracious guest. When I give the host or hostess a bottle of wine, my intention is that they will wait to open it on another occasion to enjoy. The best wine to give is one they normally wouldn’t buy themselves. I like to give Champagne, sparkling wine or Cava and persuade them to open it with pizza, popcorn, or when they have time to relax after the holidays.
It’s never too late to save. If a caterer or food retailer offers a 10 percent to 20 percent discount if you buy the foods on a certain day, it seems an obvious choice. So keep in mind most wine stores already offer those savings when you buy by the case or on “wine day.” Check weekly ads, online and in-store savings because these can sometimes be up to 50 percent off during the last few days of shopping.
Don’t be turned off by the box. You can’t deny it is a brilliant invention, yet image issues and the myth that boxed wines are inferior have prevented people from embracing the wine for celebrations. Large parties or family gatherings are the perfect time to consider the box. If you are concerned with the image, decant the wine into glass carafes and no one will be the wiser. And the bonus of the box is when the gathering ends you will be able to save the wine left in the box for up to 3 weeks.
Buy now to enjoy later. While some items like produce and flowers need to be last minute purchases, wine can be bought well before the celebration. New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, anniversaries and birthday celebrations are all good reasons to buy a case now to enjoy later. Remember, wine will wait humbly in the corner until the next celebration.