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During the Christmas season I am always looking for ways to ease the stress of my party planning. Choosing the wine – whether you are planning a large cocktail party or intimate dinner – shouldn’t be the most complicated part of your planning. With just a few helpful tips, your wine choices can be the most effortless part of your party planning.

Start with the amount of wine you will need. Ask any host or hostess who has had to rush out to the retail store or a neighbor’s house in the middle of the party – don’t be afraid to overbuy. A safe rule of thumb is one 750-ml bottle will equal about 5 (5-ounce) glasses. You can never buy too much – after all, there’s always the next party – and remember, running out of wine or food can swiftly turn a festive mood into a restive one.

Know your budget. If it’s a large cocktail party, choose a wine that sells in the $8 to $12 range. Retailers often offer party-season specials and discounts on quality wines this time of year. For a dinner party, always consider this sound advice: Spend as much as you can afford. If you’ve slaved in the kitchen preparing luscious appetizers, entrees and desserts,be sure to showcase the meal with the best wine your budget will allow.

Once the quantity and budget are in place, give some thought to other details. Keeping white wines chilled when refrigerator space is tight can be a challenge for large parties. Large plastic tubs filled with ice can do the job, or fill one side of the kitchen sink with ice. If you worry about red wine spills, have a bottle of Wine Away stain remover on hand. It’s inexpensive and easily removes those dreaded stains.

And finally, the most important host responsibility: Call a taxi for anyone overindulging in the festivities who doesn’t have a designated driver.


  • 2009 Brancott SauvignonBlanc, New Zealand (about $14 retail)
  • 2009 Oroya Tierra de Castilla, Spain (about $11 retail)
  • 2009 Concha y Toro Xpolorado Chardonnay, Chile (about $9 retail)


  • 2009 Hugel Pinot Gris, France (about $20 retail)
  • 2009 Montinore Estate Gewurztraminer, Oregon (about $19 retail)
  • 2009 Mt. Difficulty Sauvignon Blanc , New Zealand (about $22 retail)