What do I bring?
By: George Balling
It’s the holidays and many of us will be joining friends and families at their homes for Christmas dinner and other gatherings. The one request that strikes anxiety in seasoned wine drinkers and novice wine consumers alike is when the host says “bring some wine”. There are so many choices in wine and such variety in palates how would any of us know what to bring? That’s the point of the column.
Our first pointer is to be confident enough to ask the host a few follow-up questions to get as much “intel” as you can about the event and the attendees. The most important one to ask is, if there is a varietal, region or style of wine that the host really doesn’t care for. If there is a wine they simply don’t like and you show up with it, there is a better than average chance it will end up behind the canister set. The follow on then is if there is anything they really do like, it will not only garner approval, but if the wine doesn’t get consumed at the gathering the host will be comfortable having the wine at a later date on their own.
When we are asked to bring wine to an event the next thing, I want to know is the size of the gathering, and how many other guests have been assigned the same task of bringing wine. It may be the host wants you to only contribute one bottle but if we have an idea of how many guests will be there, we will know what a reasonable contribution will be.
And lastly, we always suggest knowing what the function is. Is it a dinner, or just cocktails, or cocktails and snacks? If there is any food being served whether it be just snacks or a full dinner it is helpful to know as much as possible about what will be on hand.
The most important part then is to get the help of your favorite wine professional. Here at The Dinner Party, we get this request every day and at this time of year multiple times a day. Here is how we are set up to help with this task which for many of us is daunting. Our first question is always budget. We have wines to fit every price point and we recognize that it is pointless to be discussing $50 bottles when you are targeting $15 wine. Even at the lower price points we have wines to recommend that are still delicious and will exceed your, and more importantly your host’s expectations.
Our next question might seem odd, but we want to know who you are buying for if they are a local resident. After being here for 14 years, many times the recipient will be a customer of the shop and since we have records of what most of our customers like and don’t like in wine it really helps us zero in on bottles that they will be honored to receive, and it makes the choice you make very personal and shows forethought so your contribution stands out.
We carry wine from most every appellation worldwide and this is where knowing what will be served at the party you are attending is key. Once we know the food component, we can come up with interesting suggestions that will not only go along with what is being served but also show an innovative flair. Since we don’t carry the grocery store wines that seem to show up everywhere at every event you can always be sure that your choice will have a perceived value.
If the gathering is large enough, bringing a large format bottle is also a really nice touch. Magnums or 3-liter bottles are not only impressive for their size, but it also allows all of the attendees at a larger party to have more than just a taste of whatever wine you have chosen, and it enhances the wine banter tremendously.
Whatever your goal for the wine you bring to your most important gatherings this time of year we are here and set up to help make your choice impactful and impressive, a choice you can be proud of when you show up at the party. Our goal is always to make that request of, “Can you bring the wine?” easier for you.