When planning a party and wine is on your list to serve, here's some advice for selecting the right wine:
When I buy wine for a party, I focus on wines that cost from $10 to around $15. Remember that if bought by the case you can get a discount of 10 - 15 percent. Here are a few suggestions:
Muscadet from France. This is from the Loire Valley of France and readily available for under $15. I served it one year, and it's a real crowd pleaser. It's made to be drunk young and has juicy tastes of tropical fruit and melons on a foundation of minerals, which lends it a pleasant tartness. It's clean and refreshing, often drier and has less alcohol than many whites.
Pinot Grigio from Italy. Don't scoff. Good Pinot Grigio is a delight. Some taste like lemon water, but when it's right, this wine has ripe fruit, lively acids, earth and minerals and it can be soulful. Look for regions of Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Trentino-Alto Adige on the label.
Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. Just about everyone likes this wine and there isn't a more consistently good, reasonably priced white on the shelves these days. Juicy and mouth-watering, with lime, passion fruit, kiwi, minerals and hints of green pepper, it's a consistent winner. Buy the youngest, ideally 2008.
Portuguese red. I served some of these alongside the Muscadet at a party, and they were a real treat. Often the reds are made from the same grapes as Port and you can taste the relationship, with flavors of blackberries, raspberries, pepper and herbs. They are dry, earthy, rich and very real and tend to be less expensive because they are just now being discovered. Look for wines from the Douro region.
Beaujolais-Villages from France. Not the Beaujolais Nouveau! These are soft, fruity, easy-sipping wines. I often recommend this wine to people who are making the transition to red wine. You should be able to buy this wine for under $12.
Pinot Noir from the U.S. This has become one of the country's most consistent wines. Year after year, America's Pinots retain their real, true-fruit tastes of blackberries, black cherries, earth, mushrooms and vibrant acidity. Expect to pay more for the Pinots than the Portuguese reds or Beaujolais-Villages.
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