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Cocktail Party Wines

by Staff Writer - C. Barnett | April 04, 2011

A cocktail party is traditionally more relaxed than a dinner party. They are usually simple and inexpensive ways to entertain your guests with a festive social event. Cocktail parties imply that you will be serving “cocktail” drinks with spirits and mixers. In more recent years, people have been drinking wine in place of cocktails, or alongside cocktails. You will need to make a choice of which drinks you will be serving and if they will include spirits, wine, beer and non-alcoholic beverages. If you decide to serve wine at your cocktail party, then you will need to decide which Cocktail Party Wines to purchase and how much of each. Along with the Cocktail Party Wine, all you need are corkscrews to open the wine bottles and some all-purpose wine glasses.

Choosing the Wines

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First you must consider your guests when determining which wines to select. You may want to consider a good mix of both red and white wines so that your guests can try wines they would normally not consider. Or you may want to stick with the wines you know your guests are comfortable with. You will want your Cocktail Party Wines to pair well with the food you are serving. Cocktail Party Wines are made in a wide range of styles and here are a few suggestions:

Wine Styles

  • Easy Drinking White Cocktail Party Wines: Muscadet, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc
  • Easy Drinking Red Cocktail Party Wines: Beaujolais, Petit Sirah, Sangiovese
  • Food Friendly White Cocktail Party Wines: Pinot Grigio, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc
  • Food Friendly Red Cocktail Party Wines: Gamay, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese

Food Pairings for Cocktail Party Wines

  • A Chardonnay goes well with crab cakes because the wine’s buttery undertones complement the richness of the crab cakes.
  • A Riesling goes well with shrimp cocktails because the peachy undertones of a Riesling help handle the heat of the cocktail sauce in shrimp cocktails.
  • Sauvignon Blanc goes well with smoked trout with complementary flavors.
  • A slightly sweet Sparkling Wine goes well with spicy nuts mixes because the wine's sweetness offsets the spice.
  • Sweet Wines are a good choice for rich, pungent cheese and crackers.

While cocktails might be the main attraction at your cocktail party, you are most likely to have at least a few non-cocktail drinkers on your guest list so you will want to make sure you have various samples of non-alcoholic drinks and Cocktail Party Wines available. You may want to consider these guidelines for stocking the right types of wines. Food and wine from the same region have a tendency to go together, so if your menu focuses on food from a specific country, then you will want to serve wines from the same location to complement each other. Red wine is traditionally served with heavier foods, such as steak, and white wines are served with lighter dishes, like fish and poultry. If you are serving both types of food, it is best to choose a heavy white wine and a light red wine to go with most options.

If you are serving friends or a small group of close friends whose wine tastes you are familiar with, you may want to take bigger risks with less-mainstream Cocktail Party Wine selections. On the other hand, affordable easy-to-drink wines are a staple at any cocktail party.

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