It’s time to start thinking about the holidays – to be honest, I’ve thought of nothing else for quite a long time! Holidays can be a time of stress and drama when it comes to wine – do I have enough? Is it good enough for fussy Auntie Annie? Is there enough of it for thirsty Uncle Peter? Will it go with the food I’m preparing? How will I fit it all in the fridge?
So here are a few seasonal suggestions to help everything run smoothly and make sure you can enjoy the holidays in fine wine style.
1. Take advantage of deals
At this time of year, most of the supermarkets have great deals on wines and you should make sure you get your share. Check our social media streams, websites or get on mailing lists of all the supermarkets and big bottle stores such as Ultra Liquor and let their specials direct your buying.
Don’t worry if you think you’ve bought too much – you probably haven’t anyway and even if you have, it’s unlikely to go ‘off’ in the next 6 months or so.
2. Don’t sweat the details of food and wine matching
The absolute truth of food and wine matching is that most wine kind of goes with most foods so you should really just pick the wines you like and go with that. If I want to please as many people as possible, I stick to a good crowd-pleasing white such as a Sauvignon/Chenin blend or an Unwooded Chardonnay and a juicy red blend such as a Cab/Shiraz or similar. If people are that unbearably fussy, they can bring their own.
3. Stock up on ice
If you can’t fit your wine in the fridge because it’s full of food (my normal problem) then use cooler boxes, washing up bowls, mop buckets or even a plastic bag stretched over a cardboard box as ice buckets – believe me, people will forgive you anything as long as their wine is chilled. Fill them half-full with ice and add some water (not too much or your ice will all melt before your guests arrive). Oh – and if you’re eating outside, make sure your ‘ice bucket’ is in the shade!
4. Get your quantities right
If I’m planning a party or function, I work on 1 bottle of wine giving 5 glasses and most people drinking 2 glasses per hour. Of course, there will always be beer drinkers, non-drinkers, slower drinkers as well a few thirstier individuals but this usually works out about right. In this heat, I’d work on at least a 60-40 split in favour of white wines, maybe even slightly more if you’re serving seafood or chicken.
5. Plan responsibly
It’s hot at this time of year, people drink more when they’re hot and if all you have is alcohol, you’re all going to be in trouble. Make sure you have non-alcoholic wine (I wouldn’t advise low alcohol wine as in my experience, people just drink more because they think they can!), soft drinks and water.
Open an Uber account – if people use you as a reference code, they get discounts and so do you which is a win-win, have a taxi number on hand, encourage people to use drive home services such as Goodfellas and if necessary, make up the spare bed. Better to be safe than sorry!
Have fun and enjoy your parties – I certainly will!
- Cathy Marston