By Annette Alvarez-Peters
I LOVE TO entertain, and do so as
often as possible. Choosing wines for
a party can be stress-free when you
offer a selection that will appeal to the
majority of your guests. It’s also fun to
mix in a few unexpected bottles.
Since some folks prefer to drink
only red wines and some prefer
white, a good mix of the varieties is
ideal. With the holidays approaching,
I’d like to share a few tips on selecting
wines for a festive get-together.
The wine lineup
I like to have sparkling wine, not only as
a celebratory welcome, but because the lovely
acidity pairs well with a variety of foods.
Champagne is king, with a fine stream of
bubbles and aromas of apples, citrus and brioche. Less pricey alternatives are Italian
prosecco, a fresh and fruity sparkler, or a
refreshing, drier cava from Spain.
An obvious choice for a still white wine is
the ever-popular chardonnay, but I like to
introduce some alternatives, like pinot grigio
for its lighter style, or a crisp sauvignon blanc
for those who enjoy bright acidity. A creative
choice could be a marsanne/roussanne blend
from France’s Rhône Valley.
Since more guests tend to enjoy red wine,
Food and wine pairings
I like to broaden the range with a well-
rounded selection. Cabernet sauvignon and
syrah top my list of bold reds with richness
and depth of flavor. Pinot noir is a go-to
choice for a lighter-style wine with floral aro-
matics and flavors ranging from soft red fruit
to earthy minerals. My “just for fun”
varietals are tempranillo from
Spain, grenache from the Rhône
and Barbaresco from Italy.
Recently, our buying team
attended a food-and-wine-pairing
seminar where our gracious host
offered some really useful guidelines.
What grows together, goes
together. In Spain, for example, reds
from Rioja pair beautifully with a fine
Salt needs crispness. The high acidity of
many sparkling wines balances saltiness.
Similar flavors go together. A rich, buttery chardonnay is a perfectly delicious match
with king crab.
Sweet wines can offset spicy dishes.
Off-dry rieslings blend well with today’s popular spicy Asian cuisine.
Wine flavors and sauces should be
paired together. A lemon-based sauce is a
natural for crisp sauvignon blanc, and heavy
sauces and gravies hold up to hearty, rich reds.
No sauce? Match the food. Grilled
salmon takes on earthy flavors that are best
complemented by a pinot noir that offers
Think similar weight with protein and
wine. A full-bodied cabernet sauvignon goes
perfectly with a juicy steak.
Tannins balance fats. A syrah with gritty
tannins will stand up to duck, rib-eye steak or
Match acid levels. The acidity of tomato-based dishes and sauces is well complemented
by the acidity of Italian sangiovese.
Bubbles go with everything. Period!
Wine purchasing varies with the type of
party you’re hosting. For a cocktail party, calculate a half bottle per person for a two-hour
period. If the party begins before 5 p.m., or if
beer and/or spirits are also being served,
adjust the wine to a half bottle per person for
every three hours. For a more formal sit-down dinner party, one and a half glasses per
course is the right quantity.
A standard 750 milliliter bottle of wine
equals five 5-ounce servings. During the holidays Costco features larger bottles of fine wine.
Magnums ( 1. 5 liter bottles) pour 10 servings;
double magnums ( 3 liter bottles) hold 20 servings (and look impressive on the table). In
cooler holiday weather, a ratio of 60 percent
red wines and 40 percent whites is appropriate.
Most home temperatures average 64 F to
70 F. Ideal wine temperatures are 60 F to 65 F
for reds and 45 F to 50 F for whites. Reds at
room temperature should be cooled a bit, and
whites right out of refrigeration should stand
a bit before serving.
Wines that are too cold are subject to
closed or muted flavors and aromas.
Conversely, wines that are too warm accentuate alcohol and lack balance.
Always remember to have plenty of
drinking water on hand, as well as soft drinks
and coffee for the designated drivers.
I’m looking forward to raising a glass
with family and friends this holiday. I hope
you are too. Cheers! C
Annette Alvarez-Peters oversees Costco’s wine,
beer and spirits program.
Wine tips for
You’ll ;nd these holiday-perfect wines at select Costco locations:
FEATURED AT COSTCO
Kirkland Signature™ Brut Champagne,
Champagne, France Item #942108
Chateau Ste. Michelle Indian Wells
Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley,
Washington Item #157539
Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio,
Trentino–Alto Adige, Italy Item #891845
Willamette Valley Vineyards Pinot Noir,
Willamette Valley, Oregon Item #260827