Crush your next dinner party with the perfect wines (a how to that doesn't suck)
Crush your next dinner party by totally rocking the wine selection. Its really easy. Set the mood with a good starter wine, pair your food with something easy to drink that brings out the best in both, and have options so that nobody feels left out. Let your geek flag fly through your actions, and let folks fall in love with the wines on their own terms. Its really simple, but if you do it right you're going to totally crush it. Yes, we love the crushing wine puns too.
Set the mood
Its easy to overlook the pre-dinner drinks. Some people never think about what drinks to serve, what wine to serve before you get to the headline act (the food!) But a well thought out intro wine for the dinner party will be well received, especially if you can set the mood and set the tone for the evening.
In general you should go with something that is super easy to drink and enjoyable by as many people as possible. If you can set the tone with an easy to drink wine before people sit down to whatever meal you have prepared you will find that people loosen up and are able to enjoy the party a little bit more.
Know the food, this is where wine really rocks
Wine is not all about food, but lets be honest about it for two seconds, there is a reason an entire profession is devoted to pairing wine with food. Its as much an art as it is a science which means it can be a little bit subjective. But knowing some basic principles is like knowing how to mix your primary colors. Red meat and full bodied red wines are a classic combination, Pinot Noir and poultry is another, zesty white wines and fish...you get the picture. You can get somewhat creative, like a super chilled Beaujolais Nouveau and Oysters for example, but knowing how wine pairs with food can bring out the best in both.
Don't skip the desert!
People often associate sweet wines with a bygone trend, something your mom used to drink to get hammered in the eighties, but don't knock sweet wines or desert wines because they serve a purpose. You know what wine goes really well with desert? Thats right! A nice desert wine! Look for things like late harvest, noble harvest, or Ice Wine. Late harvest Rieslings are great and easy to start with.
Still not a fan of sweet wines? Fortified wines might be just up your alley, and can serve as a great digestif. Port and Sherry are your best bets here. You might even begin to obsess over them!
Always have options, and remember taste is subjective!
Nothing is worse than offending someone. If you have a dinner party and only have a meaty, full bodied Cabernet Sauvignon and somebody shows up who only drinks light white wines, then it matters not what is on the menu you just aren't going to force them to drink it and they will end up hating you. You don't have to have a different bottle of wine for every person there, but having a simple choice between red and white can make a world of difference.
Bonus, if you know the people indulge them!
Does that best friend of yours really love Rioja? Indulge them! Get the damn Rioja. Your job as host is to make people happy. This is your performance, and people will leave thinking you are a rockstar if you give them what you want. Play Free Bird already god dammit!
And for god's sakes dont make things difficult!
Nobody actually cares about your wine knowledge. Its totally cool if you are a wine geek, that you know the ins and outs of Yakima Valley vintages, or the optimal annual rainfall for a Pinot Noir grown in warmer climates as opposed to cooler, but not everybody does. Its totally cool to geek out about your wine and share it with other people, but focus on why you love the wine, what makes it cool, interesting, or exciting. If you find a fellow wine geek you can go as deep as you want, but remember not to scare off the rest of the guests by making them feel stupid because they could not tell if Chianti was a region or a grape.