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What Type of Wine Should You Bring to a Dinner Party?

What Type of Wine Should You Bring to a Dinner Party?

There’s nothing quite like getting together with friends and family for good conversations, delicious meals, and luxurious paired wine! Many dinner parties, particularly formal ones, have an unspoken expectation that the guest will bring a bottle of wine. But which wine should you bring to a dinner party?

The best wines to bring to a dinner party are white Pinot Grigios, Sauvignon Blancs, red Cabernets, and Pinot Noirs. The general rule is to bring a well-known, moderately-priced wine that pairs well with the dinner menu.

The rest of this article will highlight the best dinner party wine selections. I’ll also explain how to select the perfect wine based on the dinner menu and the guests’ tastes.

Best Dinner Party Wine Selection

The best dinner party wine selections are subjective and depend on the guests’ likes, flavor preferences, and the food menu! However, if you’re unsure of these factors, there are a few classics that you can go for.

Some general preferences include the following wines.

  • Pinot Grigio:Pinot Grigio is a white wine from Northeastern Italy and is known to be a crisp, dry beverage with hints of citrus and lemon. 
  • Rosé:Rosé is pink — a mix between red and white — and is made in France, often embodying the flavor of various red fruits.
  • Chardonnay:Another wine made in France, Chardonnay is sparkly and dry with hints of sweet and citrusy flavors.
  • Pinot Noir: Pinot Noir also comes from Champagne, France. Pinot Noirs are red wines that can taste earthy, spicy, and fruity, depending on the brand.
  • Sauvignon Blancs: This earthy white wine contains lovely ‘green; flavors with a hint of acidity.
  • Red Cabernets: This red wine contains fruity berry flavors and a thick, rich texture. The flavor and richness depend on the region the berries come from.

Before you select your wine, it’s essential to factor in the food menu and the guests’ preferences. There are a few guidelines that wine connoisseurs follow when pairing wine with food. The main aim is to add to the dining experience with unique flavors.

Unlike a regular party or bar experience, the amount of alcohol in the wine doesn’t matter much at a dinner party. That’s why most parties offer wine instead of stronger liquor.

Let’s look at some of the guidelines to follow when choosing wine for a dinner party.

1. The Guests’ Flavor Preferences

The wine at a dinner party should be tailored to the guests’ flavor preferences. Offering a wide variety of wines ensures every guest has something enjoyable to sip on.

As a guest, you can ask the host what, if any, are their wine preferences. As a host, you can email the guests to find their preferences before setting your menu. 

However, if the dinner party is a formal occasion where you don’t know the guests well, you can always opt for one of the classic wines mentioned earlier.

2. Certain Wines Pair Well With Certain Foods

The food menu also impacts the wine selection because certain foods and wines pair significantly better than other combinations. 

What makes a good food and wine pairing are how the two taste when consumed together. The flavors should blend well, and there are specific guidelines to follow when pairing them.

For example, the wine should always contain the same flavor intensity as the food. It should also be either sweeter or more acidic than the food.

Here are some common guidelines when pairing wine with food.

Red Wine and Red Meat

Red wine goes well with any red meat — think steaks, beef, pork, venison, and lamb, for example. These pair well because red wine is high in tannins, a compound that balances out the taste of fat in red meats.

A good steak would do well with some form of red wine, whether it’s a pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon, or merlot.

White Wine and White Meat

White wines, on the other hand, always pair well with lighter meats like chicken, fish, or other seafood. With its citrusy flavors, white wine can brighten up a meal of soft meat and add a splash of acidity to the food.

The citrus flavors of white wine replicate the concept of adding a few squeezes of lemon juice onto a haddock fillet.

Bitter Wine and Fats

Bitter wine contains a high tannin content, which balances out the taste of fat. Thus, bitter wines pair very well with meat cuts containing a lot of fat, like ribeye steaks, porterhouse cuts, and New York strip steaks.

Red wines are generally more bitter than white wines because of their high tannin content. Thus, if the dinner party menu has fatty steaks on the menu, you should choose a bitter red wine like Pinot Noir.

Wine and Sauce

When possible, the fourth guideline is to pair your wine with the flavor of the sauce you use in your meal.

When choosing a wine based on the sauce, you should aim to contrast the sauce’s flavors or accentuate them. Thus, for a sweeter sauce, you can either accentuate it with a sweet wine like a Moscato or contrast it with a bitter or more earthy wine.

Contrasting and Congruent/Complementary Pairings

Contrasting and congruent pairings are the final rules when considering which wines to add to a dinner party menu. Contrastingmeans opposite,and congruentor complementarymeans similar.

Thus, you can either complement the food’s flavors with a similar flavored wine or add contrast by choosing opposing flavors.

Contrasting pairings of food and wine refer to the opposite flavor compounds between the two. So, a contrasting pairing would look like shredded beef tacos with a crisp, dry Riesling. 

Congruent or complementary pairings of food and wine refer to similar flavor compounds. An example of a complementary pairing would be a sirloin steak with a Pinot Noir.

Other Wine Selections

There are various types of wine one can choose from to bring to a dinner party aside from the one mentioned above. There are more than 10,000 wine varieties around the world today.

The main categories are:

  • White wines
  • Red wines
  • Sparkling wines
  • Dessert wines
  • rosé wines

White Wines

White wines are made with green or “white” grapes that have the skin removed before fermentation. White wines don’t have the same tannins as red wines. Therefore the green grape’s acidity is especially important for the overall flavor.

The main types of white wine are:

  • Pinot Grigio:A standard pinot grigio will have flavors of apple, lime, lemon, pear, nectarine, and peach.
  • Chardonnay:Typically, chardonnay tastes like apple, lemon, papaya, and pineapple.
  • Sauvignon Blanc:Sauvignon blanc is a popular white wine with earthy, grassy flavors and high acidity. 
  • Riesling:Riesling is a fruity, dry wine that tastes like pears, peaches, apples, or apricots.

Red Wines

Red wines are made with purple or red grapes. Again, these get skinned before fermentation. Red grape juice is full of tannins, the compounds responsible for the bitter taste that red wine often gives. The tannin content is one of the most significant differences between red and white wine.

The following wines are four of the most popular types of red wine:

  • Bordeaux:The Bordeaux wine is a favorite for dinner parties because it’s a blend of various French reds. 
  • Merlot:Merlots often embody flavors of blackberry, plum, and other red fruits, with hints of vanilla and chocolate too!
  • Cabernet Sauvignon:The Cabernet Sauvignon is a blend of grape varieties originating from Bordeaux, France, and tastes of rich cherry, chocolate, and even eucalyptus at times.
  • Shiraz: Shiraz is a deep purple wine that often tastes like blackberry, licorice, and vanilla. This wine is excellent for food grilled on the barbecue.

Consider bringing red wine if you are going to a barbeque-style dinner party.

Sparkling Wines

Sparkling wines aren’t primarily white — they can also be rosé and red. The most popular forms of sparkling wine are prosécco and champagne — the wines that are bubbly and often used at parties and celebrations.

Sparkling wines contain either one type of wine or a blend of different ones. These wines are excellent for light meat or vegetarian dishes, and you can also serve them with desserts rich in flavor and texture.

Some popular sparkling wines are:

  • Vassaltis Pet Nat: Described as light and crisp, this sparkling wine adds an extra ‘huzzah’ to an already delicious seafood meal. You can also drink it while enjoying a charcuterie board.
  • Egly Ouriet Brut Tradition Champagne:Bold and acidic, this champagne is a blend of pinot noir and chardonnay, offering flavors of blackberry and mint. 
  • Bohigas Reserva Cava Brut: This beverage is similar to many champagnes and tastes citrusy and bubbly.
  • Analemma Blanc de Noir:The Analemma hails from Oregon and is an excellent sparkling wine to bust out during a celebratory turkey dinner, offering the taste of green apple in a light white wine.

Sparkling wine is great for a dinner party with appetizers and finger foods. 

Dessert Wines

Dessert wines are the best option to serve with desserts, even though sparkling wines can pair well too. Dessert wines get their name from their sweeter flavors which complement most sweet desserts well.

Dessert wines come in white and red and can be served with dessert or other sugary dishes.

These are some of the most popular dessert wines.

  • Vietti Moscato d’Asti: This well-balanced dessert wine offers fruity and acidic flavors paired well with spicy or sugary meals.
  • Fonseca Bin No. 27 Port:The Fonseca port is a red dessert wine with heavy hints of blackberries and cherries, perfect for charcuterie board get-togethers.
  • Graham’s 20-year-old Tawny:This amber wine is fruity, nutty, sweet, and acidic, all rolled into one.
  • Castello di Amorosa:This wine is likely the sweetest of them all– described as a beverage whose sweetness lingers long after you’ve swallowed. 

If you know you’re going to enjoy a particularly sugary, savory, or spicy meal, consider bringing a dessert wine to the dinner party.

Rosé Wines

rosé wines combine red and white wine to offer a slightly sweet, refreshing glass to drink during a summer dinner party surrounding the BBQ. The main difference between rosé wines and other types of red and white wines lies in the color and amount of tannins. Red grapes give rosé wine its color, but the tannin count is much lower, so it’s less acidic.

rosé wine combines the standard, dark fruit flavors of red wine with the citrusy, crisp notes of white wines.

Some rosé wine favorites that you may want to consider purchasing for your next dinner party are:

  • Wolffer Estate Vineyard Summer:Made in Long Island, New York State, the Wolffer is a blend of ninered and white wines, so it bursts with flavor and is a perfect summer wine.
  • Chateau d’Esclan Whispering Angel Rosé:Despite the corny name, this wine is truly as light as an angel — perfect for those that enjoy a more subtle taste.
  • Willamette Valley Vineyards 2021 Whole Cluster Rosé:The Willamette is a red wine-heavy beverage, highlighting various berry flavors that pair well with light summer salads. 
  • Castello del Poggio Rosé:Originating in Italy, the Castello wine is light and semi-sweet, with hints of various berries and tropical fruits. 

If your dinner party takes place during the summer on a warm, sunny evening, a rosé wine is a perfect choice to bring to the party.

In fact, if you’re planning your own dinner party and can’t think of what to put on the menu, check out my free book Our Delicious World, which highlights some of the best dinner party dishes from around the world. Whether you’re planning a Mexican, Continental, or Asian-inspired dinner party, this book has all the recipes you need!

And with that, you should know what type of wine you ought to bring to the dinner party. But here’s the next crippling question - how much? Are two bottles too much, or is one bottle too little? Well, check out my guide on how much wine you should bring to a dinner party so you can come prepared. 

Final Thoughts

Having an idea of other guests’ (or the host’s) wine preferences and the food menu can help you decide whether to bring red wines, white wines, or even a rosé. You can learn to remember the main rules of thumb when pairing wine and food, which will help you choose the best wine to bring to your dinner party!