The members of the Taplin family are a varied bunch, but one thing we all have in common is our love for hosting, and our passion for sharing wines that we love with our guests. Over the years, I have honed my hostess skills, and here are five tips I recommend when you are serving wine in your home.
1 – Plan your wine according to the number of guests, their preferences, and the amount of time they will be at your home. I like to greet my guests with sparkling wine, and serve four-ounce pours. People usually make their first sip last while they talk to other guests. This translates into one bottle for every six guests. If you substitute white wine or rosé as the welcoming drink, estimate four guests per bottle and serve six ounces. This should last about an hour. For dinner, the estimate is one bottle for every two people. Pour four to six ounces at a time so the wine can breathe. Always be generous and have one or two extra bottles on hand.
2 – Taste, taste, and taste the recipe and the wine in advance. Often, we like the wine, but a spice or an ingredient competes with the delicate aromas and flavors, and it’s just not a match. Make sure the pairing is enjoyable, and if somebody is catering your dinner and you cannot taste the pairing in advance, just have two different wines and make it a game by asking the guests during dinner which pairing they prefer.
3 – Consider your guests’ dietary restrictions. Have you ever tried a vegetarian meal with Cabernet Sauvignon? If done well, it can be memorable. There are many gluten-free options for key ingredients that do not impact the wine pairing. If you do not know the guests well, it is better to avoid nuts, as that is a frequent and difficult allergy to handle.
4 – If space is an issue, you can set the red wines to decant on a side table. Place the bottles and the corks in front of the decanter, so your guests can see what treat they are in for as they approach the table.
5 – Dessert wine can be a treat, but it is not always necessary. After the main meal, I like to serve a cheese course to share, so guests can finish the wine they are enjoying and continue the conversation. Then follow with dessert.
Above all, enjoy those remarkable moments when good wine, good food, and dear friends and family gather at the table.
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