As the party season moves into gear, today I’m focusing on what to serve your guests. The flavours in wine, good and bad, tend to be magnified when it is drunk without food, so do try to buy something decent. It doesn’t have to be very expensive, €10 should get you something that your guests will thank you for. Sifting through the offerings from various multiples, there are also a few under €10 that are worth trying. If you can, try to use large tulip-shaped wine glasses, but only fill them half full. Your wine will taste so much better. The same goes for sparkling wine.
Fizz is festive and a great way to get a party going. Prosecco is popular, but try to avoid the really sweet versions, confusingly often labelled extra dry or dry. Look for the word Brut which is the driest style. The M&S Prosecco would be a good choice, as would its Cava.
You don’t want your guests keeling over, so try to ensure that your wines – red, white and sparkling – are light in alcohol, 13 per cent abv or less. A few nibbles of some kind will provide all-important soakage.
Your white wine should be light in alcohol and not too acidic. Sauvignon Blanc is popular, as are Muscadet, Albariño and Pinot Grigio. I have mentioned the Rizzardi Pinot Grigio before and, at €10.95 a bottle, it offers great value for money. If you fancy trying something different, the Aldi Roussanne will give your guests a pleasant surprise. It is also very keenly priced.
I know that some hosts serve only white wine, but I think that some of your guests will prefer a red wine, especially in the cold weather. Something light and fruity is called for. You could consider a Beaujolais, a Pinot Noir, Valpolicella or Tempranillo from Spain, all of which tend to have less tannin and less alcohol too.
Make sure you include an alcohol-free option for your non-drinking guests. Homemade flavoured waters can look and taste great. Alcohol-free wines are a mixed bag. I would go for the Freixenet Legero, a sparkling wine produced by a Cava producer. It is widely available for about €10. Gin lovers will enjoy the alcohol-free John Ross The Herbarium (€28, widely available) served with a Barker & Quinn tonic water.
Marks & Spencer Prosecco NV
Fresh pears and citrus with a finish that is rounded but not too sweet, although it is extra dry. From: Marks & Spencer
Specially Selected Chassaux French Roussanne 2021, Chassaux & Fils
Lightly aromatic, with very attractive plump peach and apricot fruits. From Aldi
Guerrieri Rizzardi Pinot Grigio 2021, IGP Veneto
€10.95 (down from €15.95)
Fresh succulent melon and green apple fruit with a zesty dry finish. From O’Briens
Pinot Noir La Réserve de Luch 2021, IGP pays d’Oc
Light refreshing red cherry fruits with an earthy touch. From Dunnes Stores