How Much Wine Do I Need? And Other Wine Home EC Questions

After “how many grapes go in a bottle of wine?”, probably the second most asked wine question is, “how many bottles do I need for my party?” This article will attempt to answer that, and a few other questions that fall under the category of "wine home economics." There is no standard answer to the question of how much wine to serve, since it all depends on how much you think your friends are going to drink, what other beverages there are, what the occasion is, and other factors. But, as always, common sense rules apply. Are each of your friends going to drink a bottle by themselves? Probably not, at least not at the birthday lunch you’re throwing for your mom. Figure half a bottle, max, unless it’s a bachelorette party or the Superbowl. If your friends are drinking more than that on a regular basis, you might want to rethink your criteria for friendship. A quick and easy rule is to divide your crowd by half and add a couple of extra bottles for good measure. For that birthday party, if you have 20 people coming, a case of 12 bottles ought to do it, especially if there’s beer, sodas, and water in the mix. Try not to open a new bottle until the others are empty; the unopened wine you don’t use will keep just fine. While we’re on that subject, what about keeping open wine? How long can I expect it to last? Unfortunately, the answer to that is, not long. A day or two at the most. Whites just don’t hold up very long; reds a bit longer, and they will actually evolve overnight and take on interesting nuances. It’s fun to try a good red after a night sitting half empty, but it won’t hold up much more than another day. There are devices you can use that inject a blanket of nitrogen or other inert gas in the bottle; if you’re saving an expensive or rare wine, it would be worth investing in one of these. What about white vs. red? Again, the occasion makes a difference. An afternoon party will see more whites and rosés opened, while a dinner party is likely going to be heavier on reds. It’s not necessarily true that guys will drink more reds than gals; if you’re unfamiliar with your crowd’s flavor preferences, it’s best to go 50/50 on the mix and throw some rosé in with the whites or even a few bottles of sparkling wine. How about glassware? There’s been a move in recent years towards stemless glasses, small tumblers, and bowls without stems. These are great; they keep things casual and are easier to clean. Keep in mind that if you’re serious about tasting the wine, a tumbler isn’t going to direct the aromas to your nasal passages like a well-designed glass will. Too fussy? Maybe, but it’s true. If you entertain a lot, a couple dozen medium sized, good crystal stems are a great addition to your party time arsenal. You don’t need to go overboard or spend a lot, and please don’t use those gigantic glasses that you can pour half a bottle of wine into. They’re so over. If you are using really good glasses, by the way, don’t wash them with soap. They’ll start to cloud and lose their crystal clear shine. Just use very hot water, and dry and polish them carefully with a clean towel right away. Corks? Frigging corks. We love screwcaps, and use them on our McEvoy Ranch Rosebud Rosé, Bonfiglio Viognier, Sāimuun Vermentino and Sangiovese and other wines that likely won’t be aged for very long. But corks are still preferred for wines that will sit for longer than a year, so a good corkscrew is a must have. Spend a little more for a waiter’s knife that feels solid in the hand, has a good, sharp blade for cutting off the foil and a hinged lever. Truetap is the brand most industry professionals go for; we don’t sell it, we just want you to be happy. OK, you’re set with wine, glasses, and corkscrew. Bring on the crowd, and be sure to serve Mom first.