The New Year is upon us once again, and so is the joyous season of celebration over parties that easily last till early morning in the midst of good friends and wine. I suspect that while many of us spend hours planning the food, the wine doesn’t get much attention until the last frightening minute. Choosing wines for a party should be a pleasure not a pain.
A bit of forethought can ensure you have just the right drinks at the party. The thing to remember, of course, is that some people like to drink only whites, some only reds, so it is important to have one of each. Looking for wines that are popular will ensure the guests are happy and you win their vote as a good gracious host.
Here are my Top Five wine styles that are bound to please all palates and leave your guests impressed by your choice. This selection of wines includes sparkling, white and red, ranging from dry to medium sweet with a variety of notes to be experienced by your guests, keeping in mind their pairing with some commonly served party foods.
Champagne has always been and will always remain the ultimate luxury beverage. It is much more versatile than most people think. Champagne could begin your evening, end your evening and is the perfect bottle to pop at the stroke of midnight of a birthday party. Classic Moet & Chandon or a hand-crafted champagne Billecart Salmon Brut pairs brilliantly with classic appetisers such as smoked salmon or butter brushed prawns, balancing the food’s richness and cleansing its oily texture with its high natural acidity.
Personally, I think it is hard to beat fizz at a drinks party. But Champagne can end up burning a big hole in your wallet so Prosecco, the Italian sparkler, could be a cost practical choice. The soft fruity and nutty flavours of Carpene Malvolti or Zardetto Prosecco will complement a variety of starters, nuts and cheeses.
An aromatic white wine with an inviting nose can be a real winner among the women and younger people. Torres Vina Esmeralda from Spain made from the perfumed Muscat grape and medium sweetness can perfectly pair mildly spiced smoked tandoori dishes and fruit-based desserts. De Martino Sauvignon Blanc from Chile with its grassy herbaceous notes will complement the green in the salads as well as any salty cheeses such as feta or goat cheese. Or try Indian Sula Riesling, a prized creation from the Sula repertoire with ripe peach and apricots, off-dry notes and mouthwatering acidity to balance the richness of the pates, garlic butter dishes or the creamy pastas.
Roast chicken or other roast dishes with veggies or fruity sauces require ripe and fruity red wines with low tannins to complement the flavoursome accompaniments . A New Zealand Pinot Noir such as the one from the Framingham Estate in the Marlborough region with its ‘feminine’ style and supple tannins would do the job perfectly. Moreover, the perfumed ripe fruity flavour will appeal to the party guests who prefer to savour wine on its own.
For a real crowd pleaser of a red wine, you might try a Californian Merlot. The Stags Leap Merlot with its well balanced acidity, is a smooth rich wine that is absolutely beautiful when paired with a variety of foods such as mutton rogan josh or other curries, hard cheeses and quiches.
Let us not forget that the festive season is also a season for gifting and what better gift to give or receive than a bottle of carefully chosen wine. Versatile, crisp Chablis from the House of Albert Bichot Domaine Long-Depaquit reflects class as well as complements a variety of festive foods.
Sonal Holland is the Founder & CEO of the Sonal Holland Wine Academy, which creates wine experiences in education, consulting, events and offers fine wine investment advisory services. Sonal has studied wines at the WSET in London and is the first Indian to be accepted into the Master of Wine (MW) education programme in the UK.