I’m hosting a drinks party – how much wine should I buy?

How to Drink Better: A lot depends on the kind of friends you have and if there are any non-drinkers in the group

Q: I’m having a drinks party. How much wine and other drinks should I buy?

A: A lot depends on the kind of friends you have: are they party animals, or slow sippers who drop in for a social glass? Before deciding on how much drink you will need, it is worth asking yourself a few questions.

How many guests will actually turn up?

It is important to have a clear idea of how many of your friends will make an appearance.

What kind of party am I having?


I am assuming this is drinks party, not a barbecue or dinner party.

How long will my guests be there?

A drinks party can last anything from two hours to five. Remember that there will always be a few stragglers who bed in for the night.

How many children, drivers, no-alcohol guests will be there?

You will need more than plain water to cater for this group. As well as fizzy drinks, have a few interesting fruit juices, kombucha, water kefir, maybe even a mocktail. The more non-drinkers you have, the less alcohol you will need to buy.

Will you be serving food?

It is always a good idea to provide soakage.

Will I be serving other drinks?

Will you be serving beer, sparkling wine or cocktails as well?

How much wine?

You will need both white and red wine and possibly rosé. For a drinks party, I would order twice as much white as red. You will get about five glasses per bottle, four if you are pouring large glasses. Allow for three glasses per person over two hours, roughly half a bottle of wine. Most wine shops and some supermarkets offer sale or return which allows you to over-order a little to make sure you don’t run out. Just don’t open every bottle. Some shops also offer glass hire if you buy from them.

Other drinks

Cocktails are always good. It is more manageable to serve one or a maximum of two cocktails. Make sure you have your personal mixologist on hand to make and serve them. Beer is pretty much essential at a drinks party. Allow for two bottles or cans for the first hour, one per hour thereafter.

Make sure you have plenty of ice, or another way to keep white, rosé and beer well chilled. Overall, the fewer drinks you serve the less stressful it will be for you and the more time you can spend with your guests. One good move is to have a themed party – you could go Italian with a negroni, an Italian beer and an Italian red and white wine. One party I went to recently ordered in (very good) pizza.