Wedding season is winding down and it’s almost time for the holidays. Lots of newlywed couples will be hosting their first Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year’s parties. Hosting a dinner party, especially during the holidays, can be challenging both in terms of planning and cost, but the last thing any couple, especially a newlywed couple, should want to deal with, is stress.
After picking a menu or deciding on an assortment of hors d’oeuvres, it’s time to choose what drinks to serve. Mixed drinks and beer are crowd pleasers for sure, but wine has become increasingly popular among the younger crowd and remains popular among other age groups. And wine is not quite as simple to choose as mixed drinks or beer, so it takes a little more planning. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be too costly, which can be a concern for newlywed couples beginning to entertain, and it can be fun. Planning a holiday celebration together is a great thing for newlywed couples to do, and stores like Williams-Sonoma have wonderful books for newlywed couples who are beginning to entertain.
For a toast and especially when entertaining on New Year’s Eve, sparkling wine is a must. It doesn’t have to be an expensive Champagne – Italian Prosecco, Spanish Cava, and sparkling wines from dependable wineries in California are great alternatives. In addition, if the couple has chosen to serve hors d’oeuvres and the like, sparkling wine is an excellent choice, as it is festive and generally very food friendly, making it easy to pair with most appetizers, canapes, and other items served at a cocktail party.
When choosing a white wine that would pair well with most foods being served at a party, a good choice is Sauvignon Blanc. Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand are often very reliable and reasonably priced. In addition, they’re easy to serve, as many come in screw cap bottles, instead of having to use a corkscrew. Sauvignon Blanc is often quite the crowd pleaser for its bright, crisp characteristics and easy drinkability, and has become increasingly popular. Unoaked Chardonnays are more versatile than their oaky counterparts, and on Thanksgiving, dry Riesling and Gewurztraminer are often the white wines of choice. Again, the wines don’t have to be expensive – many white wines of good quality can be found for under $20.
Red wines of good quality can also be found in the $20 range, but I am generally hesitant to go below $15 on reds. Good red wines from dependable producers are often pricey but there are still plenty of wine producing regions around the world that make it relatively easy to find good quality yet inexpensive wines. Plenty of red wines from California fall into that category, as do many reds from South America, particularly the elegant yet energetic Malbecs from the Mendoza region in Argentina. Other reds to consider that remain in the more reasonable price ranges are from Sicily near Mount Etna, and Portugal’s Douro region.
Another word of advice for newlywed couples entertaining – consider investing in some inexpensive stemware. It can be quite stressful to watch guests making their way around a crowded room balancing a plate of hors d’oeuvres, a cocktail napkin, flatware, and one of your beautiful (and expensive) Riedels that were purchased from your bridal registry or your Tiffany Champagne flutes. Be mindful of the quality of the wine glass, making sure the glass is not too thick or cheaply made – but you’ll be happy to know your best stemware is safely put away for smaller gatherings or romantic nights alone with your spouse.