What wine to bring to a party: here is our guide
What’s the one gift we all love to receive but hate to buy? Wine. Buying wines for other people can be a minefield – there are so many avenues to take and everyone has such specific tastes. Choosing by price doesn’t work either, as all too often the retail price is not representative of the actual value (more on that here).
We know how difficult it can be, so here’s our mini guide
The barbie season is upon us! This means a whole lot of barbecues, ranging from that £2 disposable grill in the park to your mate’s flashy gas thing at his summer villa. Whichever it is, the situation calls for wine. BBQs benefit from casual and flexible wines, ones that – worst case scenario – can survive plastic cups. Try these:
>> A Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand
Very ‘in’ right now, and for good reason. Served very cold, Sauvignon Blancs are refreshing and pair nicely with the salad table at barbecues and whatever comes with it (baguettes, hummus, grilled halloumi), as well as Thai-flavoured prawn-skewers, for instance. Expect to pay at least a tenner for a Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, but no need to go over £14 pounds, which makes this a lovely wine to give to someone as a thank you for all their hard work.
>> A Shiraz from Australia
This is a great choice for a barbecue full of meat-lovers. In general grilled meat benefits from rich wines that come from hot countries, such as Australia. Fatty foods also tend to make the tannins in Shiraz smoother. When buying for a friend, aim to spend over £10 – how about this fabulous bottle from Barossa Valley?
Dinner parties are tough: often you won’t know what your host is cooking. The best wines for the occasion are ones that go with pretty much with anything, just in case the host decides to open the bottle on the spot. Dinner parties are also great opportunities to show off – which you can do by bringing an interesting, slightly obscure wine. These wines are great icebreakers, and even if there is no ice, will give you something stimulating to talk about.
So whether you’re going to your best friends’ or to the in-laws’, these should give you some brownie (or should we say wine?) points:
>> Riesling from Alsace
Riesling has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years, and thank goodness for that – the acidity of Riesling cuts through even the fattiest foods, and its rich aromas and off-dry flavours boldly match the most demanding of dishes. As far as versatile grapes go, Riesling is definitely on the top of the list – and the iconic look of the bottles from Alsace will bring class to the table. Try this one.
Why not think outside the box? Although some dessert wines can be demanding in terms of food, most are delicious on their own, and a fair few can bend many ways.
ROMANTIC NIGHT IN (PARTY FOR TWO)
We’re not making any promises, but we will say this: a well-chosen wine can make your cosy night in more intimate and, erm, magical. Trust us. If it’s a long-term lover you’re snuggling up with, and you already know his or her favourites, by all means stick to what you know! If, however, you’re looking to spice things up a bit, or you don’t know your date’s preferences, avoid wines that are heavy in tannins and likely to make you look like a vampire by the end of the evening. Try one of this instead:
>> Pinot Noir from California
You knew it would be here, the famous, seductive, light yet luxurious Pinot Noir. The ultimate grape variety for show that romance isn’t dead (at least not when it comes in 75cl from California). Why not try the Lockwood Vineyard currently on sale in the Vinoa shop?
Whatever the occasion, it’s polite to bring a bottle for the host – even if they don’t open it the same night (they might well need it to cope with the mess the following morning). More often than not, however, your bottle will be put to test sooner rather than later, which means that you should always buy to impress:
>> Champagne for birthdays
We here at Vinoa are firm believers that every birthday calls for champagne – it just oozes the sense of luxury that special occasions call for. All champagne naturally comes from Champagne, but if you feel like the real thing is out of your price range, don’t panic: it doesn’t have to be actual champagne (which, in all honesty, is a bit pricey if it’s someone you’ve only just met).
More budget-friendly but still bubbly alternatives include Prosecco from Italy and Cava from Spain, but for more complexity and finesse, enter the world of Crémants. Also French, crémants use similar production methods to Champagne and thus makes a fantastic alternative, and can be versatile and enjoyable as their more prestigious cousins.