Good bottles for a bash
You can find nicely drinkable wines to serve at a party, for not too much money, and if you're buying in bulk ask for a discountThe party season is starting in earnest, and if you intend throwing a bash of any sort, now is the time to buy the wine. At this stage, staff working in wine shops and off-licences will still have time to talk to you, and take you through the various options. You will even have time to try out a couple of potential wines at home before buying.
If you are buying a case or more, you can expect a discount of some sort, usually in the region of 10 per cent. It is always worth haggling a little too. This includes at the supermarkets, most of which offer a reduction on six bottles or more.
How much to buy depends very much on how much your friends and relations drink, but I would recommend buying too much rather than too little; you do not want to run out on the night. Any leftovers can always be consumed over Christmas, or you may be able to swap it for something else with the retailer who supplied it to you. I would work on half to two-thirds of a bottle of wine per person.
Bear in mind that some guests will not be drinking alcohol, so offer an adult soft drink, or even a mocktail – drinking water all evening can be very boring. Though if you are serving water remeber to keep it coming in jugs.
Keeping white wine cool can be a problem if your fridge is packed with food. Try putting white wine in a shady place outdoors on the morning of the party, if you have a secure back garden, or buying a bag or two of ice on the day. A mix of water and ice will chill your wine more quickly than plain ice, so try to get hold of a few large colourful buckets to keep things chilled in. I would also recommend putting red wine in an unheated room; warm soupy wine can be very unpleasant.
There are two kinds of party these days, and sometimes it is difficult to work out which you have been invited to. One serves just drinks, with a few nibbles, the other includes something more substantial. I don’t want to get into a David Cameron-style argument about suppers versus dinner, but it is useful to know what to expect.
On several occasions I have arrived at a party having eaten a large dinner, only to find the host has put on a huge spread of food. Today we will look at the fork supper, or a party where a plate of hot or cold food will be served.