Wine Cellar Innovations Blog

Selecting Your Wines For The Holidays

November 15th, 2010

Can you believe it’s November?

We’re all looking forward to the holiday season — creating menus, decorating the home and preparing special meals, buying gifts!  Some of us can plan and prepare our holiday menu with ease, but when it comes to wine-shopping, it can be a challenge. Well, wine shopping doesn’t have to be stressful.  To help you enjoy selecting wines for your holiday meal, we’ve put together some tips for you:

Before you buy your wine

Sit down with a pencil and paper and decide how much wine you will need.  Consider the following:

  • Number of guests
  • Their preferred wines

If you are not sure of this number, assume most of your guests will drink one to three glasses of wine during your party.  Make a wise guess about whether they will drink more or less than the average person.

Next, determine the length of your party or meal, as well as the type of party (cocktail, sit-down, buffet?). Typically, a guest will drink one or two glasses of wine in the first hour of your party, and then perhaps one glass per hour. For a cocktail party, the 3 glasses per guest rule will hold true. However, for a multi-course, sit-down meal with wine lovers, you might want to plan four or five glasses per guest.

If the wines being served before dinner as aperitif, many wine experts recommend buying 60 percent white wine and 40 percent red wine. After the aperitif, it’s important that you pair the wines with the food you are serving.

Finally, determine your food and beverage budget. Remember, your wine doesn’t always have to be expensive. There are plenty of good-value wines available that will complement a holiday meal.

Organizing your wines in wine racks or your wine cellar

Before you leave for your local wine shop, make sure you have room in your home. If you’ve got some pretty wine racks or a wine cellar, check if you still have available space.

We know you already know this, but you should store your holiday wines in a temperature-controlled area with stable humidity, away from light.  Never place your case of wine on your kitchen floor or counter.  Your kitchen can get warm for proper wine storage especially if you’re baking!

If you’ll be storing your wines in the fridge, then toss out all expired food, ancient leftovers and unneeded items before shopping for your wines.  Reorganize your refrigerator to maximize available space.  This is important because you will need to keep your space clear so you can chill wine to its proper temperature for your party.

Officially shopping for your wines

So now you’re ready to hit your local wine store.

First of all, make sure that your wine shop is your final stop. Leaving your wines in your car (even on a cold day) could affect its taste, particularly on a sunny day.

Ask for recommendations from your local wine shop, but stay within your budget. Mention your menu selections and price ranges.  If you have researched wine and food pairings, you can still ask about particular suggestions.  Ask for two or three suggestions for both red and white wines that will complement your main course.

When in doubt, always ask your favorite, knowledgeable wine store owner on the pairing of your food and wines. After all, that is their job and if they don’t do it well you need to find one that does.

Buy your wines by the case. To save money and time, this is a must.  Most wine shops offer case discounts, so take advantage of that.

Being the person who has done the hard work of planning and shopping for your meal and wines, you deserve to enjoy the wines you have selected. So choose wines the complement not only your menu and please your guests, but those that you truly enjoy drinking yourself.

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