10 Wines You Should Bring to the Next Dinner Party
This post contains affiliate links. Read my full disclosure here. Have you ever been in this scenario: You get invited to a dinner party, volunteer to bring the wine and then you realize you don’t really know what to bring? Wine tastes are so wide-ranging that choosing for other people can feel a bit daunting. In order to please even picky palates, be sure to ask your host if they have any preferences and get a general idea of the menu. Once you have this information here are ten great dinner party wines that everyone will be talking about until the next one!
Wine for beginners
If there are newbies in the group a German Riesling is a great way to introduce them to wine. Now you may be thinking this varietal is much too sweet and I would tend to agree with you. A trick with Riesling is to check the Alcohol by Volume content also known as the ABV. The lower the alcohol content, the sweeter the wine will be. It is also worth it to remember that Germans label their wines in great detail. If you spot the word Trocken on the label or the letters “GG” you have found a dry wine. Reasonably priced at around $20.00 a bottle, the 2007 Gunderloch Riesling Kabinett “Jean Baptiste” is a great way to demonstrate that a Riesling can successfully strike a balance between sweet and dry. This wine pairs well with spicy food, fish, salads and pastas that have been dressed with olive oil. If you can’t find it, a 2015 Sea Glass from Monterey is a good option, too.
While it seems that wine contains no animal products because it comes from grapes, fining agents like gelatin and eggs utilized in processing render many wines off limits for vegans. For those in the group who are committed to a vegan lifestyle, California-based and family owned and operated Clos LaChance Winery has created The Vegan Vine offering a red and a white option. The Chardonnay has the perfect balance of citrus, honeysuckle and even peach cobbler pairing well with veggie lasagna and soups while the berry and plums of the Cabernet Sauvignon go great with veggie burgers and chili. Of course, the meat-eaters in the group will love them, too and for $18.00 a bottle you can try them both!
An Off the Wall Wine
If the menu calls for fish tacos, seafood or roasted chicken Austria’s Grüner Veltliner is in order! This is a medium bodied wine with a white peppery flavor that is tangy and refreshing. At around $35.00 to $50.00 a bottle a Weingut Knoll Gruner Veltliner Smaragd Vinothekfullung is not easy to pronounce nor is it as easy to find as some of the other wines on the list, but everyone will agree with a toast it was well worth the effort! An easier to find alternative is one of the Pahlmeyer wines. The Cabernet Sauvignon -let it age and it will knock your socks off!
The result of not allowing CO2 to escape during the fermentation process, sparkling wine offers an effervescent option making it a great choice for a holiday celebration or birthday party. New Mexico’s Gruet Brut pairs apple and citrus for a complex wine with a slight smoky finish. You’ll be delighted with how perfectly it pairs with cheese and strawberry shortcake while raising your glass to the $15.00 price tag! Wine of the Month Club has some other great options, too.
Dinner party wines that won’t break the bank
In college my friends and I would have spaghetti and pasta nights. A relatively inexpensive dish, we’d pair it with Caesar salad, a loaf of crusty bread and oh how I wish we had available to us the $10.00 bottle of jammy 2012 Gnarly Head Cabernet Sauvignon with its cherry and peppercorn notes. While the price is small, the taste isn’t! If you sort by price from low to high, there are all sorts of GREAT options here starting at $4.99!
California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation published their data demonstrating that hundreds of thousands of pounds of chemicals used in non-organic vineyards have killed birds and already dwindling bee populations. In the US, these wines are made from organically grown grapes in vineyards where no pesticides or herbicides are used. Additionally, no sulfites may be added to the wine. While the jury is still out on whether they cause the well-known wine headache (evidence points to no), up to five-percent of asthmatics present allergic reactions to this preservative. For those who wish to air on the side of caution without sacrificing quality and taste, Frog’s Leap offers a wide array of varietals sure to please! For around $30.00 try the Red Zinfandel. The cherry, fig and huckleberry are the perfect pairings for hamburgers, traditional lasagna and roast turkey. I haven’t tried it yet, but for a hot day with spicy food or BBQ this 2014 Terroir Sauvignon Blanc looks delish.
This type of sparkling wine comes from the Champagne region of France. Its wine-makers follow the complex process of secondary fermentation in order to create its carbonation. For around $50.00, Veuve Clicquot’s Brut Yellow label offers a smooth texture with flavors of apple, white peach and baked bread. Pair it with oysters or a chilled shrimp cocktail. You can find more options here.
Worth the cost
There is a belief that more expensive wines are a waste of money and often times that is true. Then you have the 100% varietal, single-vineyard Nickel & Nickel by the partners of Far Niente proving the naysayers wrong. Starting at $100.00 and topping out at $440.00 you won’t go wrong with any of the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignons. A personal middle of the road favorite is the $225.00 State Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon, Yountville. With its chocolate, blueberry and earthy flavors it’s perfect for steaks and roasts. I’ve also been wanting to try this Bettina. It’s $550 a bottle, so I’ll wait until my tenth wedding anniversary LOL.
Traditionally served at the end of a meal, Portugal’s sophisticated port wine is fortified with grape spirit or brandy during the wine making process. Because these additions take place before the wine has fermented, it is left with a distinctly sweet taste that pairs well with cheese and chocolate. Vintage port is not filtered before bottling allowing yeast build up that forms inside the bottle requiring it to be decanted. If you don’t mind a little work, it’s worth it. Offering violet notes and dark berry fruit taste, try the 2000 Niepoort Vintage Port for around $65.00. If you have tried the Taylor Fladgate, tell me your thoughts. I’ve been thinking about ordering it, too.
Not to be outshone by vintage port, Tawny port offers a longer shelf-life than its counterpart requiring no decanting and is aged in wood casks from ten to forty years. During the aging process the oxidation causes the color of the wine to look “tawny.” Served slightly chilled, a ten to twenty year old tawny port is perfect with figs, baked apples, crème brûlée or dark chocolate truffles. I recommend Cockburn’s 20 Year Tawny port for around $40.00. You could also try the Kopke Colheita. At $225 make sure you really like the people you’re dining with haha. Of course, I’m in agreement with those who believe the not to be missed thirty and forty year tawny ports should be paired with only great company and conversation making it one of the most perfect “after” the dinner party wines out there.
Your favorite dinner party wines
So there you have it. Some of the dinner party wines I like to share. What are some of your favorites? I love to try new wines, so let me know in the comments. Cheers, everyone!nner party wines dinner party wines