Dinner parties are back! And we couldn't be more excited. The wait has been long - our inability to not get together and celebrate hasn’t been fun. So we have a lot of time to make up for it. Right now is the perfect opportunity to gather a small group of your closest people and organize a lovely evening full of great food and great wine.
With it being so close to the holidays, we also put together a guide to throwing the perfect holiday dinner party, Click Here!
Today, we are going to focus on food and wine: How to pair them, what is the best order to serve them, and some tips and tricks that you should take into account before starting to plan your party!
The Basics: What Wines to Buy?
The Life of the Party: The Bubbles
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a celebration? The answer is bubbles.
Sure, sparkling wine isn't just for parties and special occasions, but we all know that a great celebration doesn’t start until a bottle of sparkling wine is popped open.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be a high-end and expensive Champagne, there are other perfect alternatives to Champagne, like a Cava, Prosecco, Cremant, and more!
Choose the label that best suits your tastes and your pocket. Click here to find the best Sparkling Wines.
Some useful tricks before serving Sparkling Wines:
- Sparkling wine has different levels of sugar known as "Dosage", in very simple terms it is the amount of sugar that the sparkling wine has. The wine is classified as "Brut, Brut Nature, Demi-Sec", etc. But today we are not going to get into that complicated topic, if you want to learn more about the incredible process of how sparkling wines are made, Click Here. To summarize, if you want to please all your guests, I recommend that you get a “Brut” classification that is up to 12 g of sugar per l, the standard for most Champagne, it is usually not so dry and not so sweet.
- Sparkling wine is drunk chilled, at around 43º to 50º F. As a tip, place the sparkling bottle in the refrigerator for at least 2 to 3 hours before serving (Use extreme caution with a freezer, if the bottle stays in too long it will explode).
- Try to use the correct glass for sparkling wine. A flute glass will prevent the bubbles from escaping too quickly and because of the size, you will have to serve smaller quantities ensuring that you always have the correct temperature in the glass.
White wines are a pleasure to drink, and usually, thanks to their acidity, they help you whet your appetite. That is why our suggestion is to start dinner with a white wine paired with the appetizers.
Typically, the entrees tend to be much lighter and fresher dishes, such as canapes, salads, oysters, soft cheeses, and more. The quintessential pairing for appetizers is undoubtedly a fresh white wine.
We recommend that for the hot season you choose a much cooler and lighter white such as Sauvignon Blancs or Pinot Grigios, while for the autumn and winter holidays, opt for an aged Chardonnay.
Click Here for our White suggestions.
Some useful tricks before serving White Wines:
- Lighter whites are served between 45º and 50º F, while heavier whites are served a little less fresh, between 50º and 55º F.
- Try not to serve very full glasses, serve ¼ part or less of the glass, so that the temperature is maintained fresh.
The golden rule for serving red wines is: Start with the lightest and end with the heaviest (this is applicable to all wines).
Our recommendation is to start with light reds like Beaujolais, Pinot Noir (which you can pair with lighter dishes like grilled salmon, pates, or terrines), followed by more spicy and intense wines such as Syrah, Bordeaux, Napa Cab, Zinfandel, which are ideal for the main course, that typically tends to be fattier and roasted or slow-cooked.
Click Here to find the best red wine options.
Some useful tricks before serving Red Wines:
- Lighter reds are served between 55º and 64ºF, while heavier reds are served between 59º and 64ºF.
- If it is possible, use the correct glasses for each wine.
Can you imagine a meal without dessert? I don’t! There is something spectacular about combining sweet wine with sweet food.
Just like sweet wines, desserts are an explosion of flavors in the mouth, normally the sweetness of the dessert requires a wine that is equally powerful and to support it.
There are countless dessert wines, from fortified wines, botrytis, ice wines, among others, and each of them with different and charming features that are worthy to be tasted and enjoyed.
Without any doubt, the sweetest way to end the night is certainly with a wine of this same style. Click Here to find out our suggestions!
Some useful tricks before serving Dessert Wines:
- Serve cold in small glasses due to the higher alcohol content (15.5% - 22% ABV.)
- If you’re drinking different dessert wines, drink lighter wines, such as fino sherries first, and darker, sweeter styles such as Port after.
- When serving fortified wines that have extended oak aging, decant and aerate them.
Although today it is known that not only meat goes with reds and fish with whites, there are still pairing clichés that are completely tasty and useful when you have no idea what wine to buy.
Some of our favorite cliché pairings are:
- Oysters and Muscadet or Sparkling
- Canapés and White Wine
- Seafood and Chardonnay
- Tomato-based pasta and Sangiovese
- BBQ and Zinfandel
- Steak and Cabernet Sauvignon
- Chocolate cake and Port
Does and Don'ts
There are some basic rules for the service and enjoyment of wine at a party. Here are some does and don’ts.
- Start from the lightest wines to the heaviest (whites, rosés, light reds, heavy reds, dessert).
- Play a little and try different wines with each meal.
- Match the intensity and flavors of the food with the intensity and flavors of the wine, (e.i. lighter food like salads with lighter wines like fresh Sauv Blancs, sweet dishes like dessert with sweet wines).
- Never buy the exact quantity of wines, always try to get an extra bottle of each wine that you will be serving (better to have extra than to run out).
- Don’t follow the phrase “serve a red wine at room temperature” Each wine has the correct temperature of serving, and “room temperature” is often too warm.
- Don’t stay in your comfort zone, try new and exciting wines, and make your food and wine experience different.
For more information about Big Hammer Wines’ Holiday collection or to order, Click HERE.
Big Hammer Wines
The wine experts at Big Hammer Wines taste thousands of wines every year from around the globe, looking for quality and value. This special offer reflects the passion we have for our clients.