A little know-how can make choosing the right wine for your event a breeze.


Whether you’re hosting a networking drinks reception, a client meeting, or your company’s holiday party, there’s one thing which can’t be excluded from the budget… wine. Let’s take the ‘H’ out of whine, by following these simple guidelines. Trust me – you’ll be a wine planning diva or divo in no time.


Thoughts worth a swirl…


Who are your guests?

Entry Level employees will consume almost twice that of Department Heads and Partners and not surprisingly, will be less discerning. Furthermore, it’s not advisable to serve the restaurant’s entry level wine to a client.


Get results

Plan to serve more alcohol at fun, rewarding events, such as the Christmas party, compared to functional events like the AGM.


Buy enough, but not too much

And how much is just enough, you ask? Some catering companies suggest as much as 2 bottles per person. A good rule of thumb is just over 1 bottle per person. Some will indulge, others will be more abstemious. Who hasn’t left behind a glass half full, mingling through the room?


Wine time?

Often beverage service can be broken down into before, during and after food service. For each hour you are entertaining, prepare to serve half a bottle per person – 375ml or 12.5 ounces.


Colour conundrum

Approximately 60 per cent of your guests will drink red and the remaining 40 per cent will drink white. That said, if you’re lucky enough to have good weather when hosting an outdoor party, this number is likely to be reversed. Top tip to impress your guests: in hot weather you can slightly chill a light bodied red wine. For most wine, the lighter the body, the colder it should be served.


Bottomless glass?

Whilst it may be great for networking, guests who are ‘topped up’ without the need to ask may be bad for the budget. If you’re counting the bottles and the beans, the staff should be trained to ask if guests would like their glasses refilled.


Assistance required

Many restaurants employ a Sommelier (so-mel-yay) to help with wine selection. To remember the correct pronunciation think of the ending like expressing your excitement when your round of drinks arrives at the table… yay! But, don’t let them lead you astray. Unless you’re creating a food and wine matching experience, you’re looking for easy drinking wines. Steer clear of anything described as ‘unusual’ or ‘interesting’, especially wines high in oak or tannins.


Taste test

Always request to sample the wine which will be served at your event. To spot a quality wine, count the number of seconds you taste the wine after you swallow it. For house wine, I would expect at least 5-6 seconds on the finish. If it’s only 5 seconds, it better be a jolly good 5 seconds. And if it’s not – it’s not worth the calories.



Prosecco or Champagne?

Having polled over 1,000 attendees in our Introduction to Sparkling Wine speedTASTING we learned that less than 50 per cent prefer non-vintage champagne, and even fewer prefer vintage champagne. In fact, prosecco, a high quality fruity sparkling wine from the Vento region of Italy, is the only sparkling wine or champagne out of 14 options, consistently voted as the favourite. When asked if anyone did not like the prosecco, less than 3 per cent responded negatively. Perhaps more astounding than people preferring the prosecco, is that some people don’t like bubbles at all!


Lasting impressions

If price is no option and you’re entertaining high profile clients, why not serve bubbles throughout the meal? With the vast array of sparkling wines & champagne available there is plenty of delicious food matching options for sparkling wine. Two of my recent sinfully exquisite pairings was Codorníu Cava with duck a l’orange and a Jeio Bisol Prosecco with a rich and creamy cheese cake. A match made in heaven which resulted in a truly memorable experience.


Sadly, many people judge the quality of the event by the quantity of booze available, especially if this is seen as the only form of entertainment. Just like choosing the right shade of lipstick, selecting the perfect wine should not be underestimated.


The next time you’re planning the wine menu, have a little fun with it. Good wines equal good times… create lasting impressions with your selection and your guest will thank you for it!

Kelly Bayliffe is an award-winning wine writer, presenter and passionate entertainer. On more than one occasion she has won or been shortlisted for the International Wine Challenge, Wine Educator of the Year. She is the founder of Tastour, a food and ... (Read More)

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