Your house is party central—but your budget is strapped. How to welcome guests in style, while keeping holiday expenses under control? No one has more experience entertaining graciously on a budget than COPIA, the nonprofit wine center in Napa, California, which hosts crowds six days a week. We checked in with senior director of wine and food, Peter Marks, who offers this advice:
- Calculate your wine needs, and buy the right amount. For open houses and cocktail parties, plan on 1/3 to 1/2 bottle per person; for a sit-down dinner, one bottle per person.
- Leave your treasures in the cellar. They’ll be appreciated more at small gatherings with close friends.
- Hunt for bargains. Big retailers offer deals this time of year. Savvy shoppers can find quality $15 wines discounted to $12 or even $8.
- Ask for a case discount. Not always available, but it doesn’t hurt to check.
- Buy American. California sparkling wines give French Champagne stiff competition.
- Try vino. Spanish and South American imports provide excellent value.
- Think inside the box. Today’s packaged wines are vintage-dated varietals. The quality won’t embarrass you—if the container does, decant it.
- Serve mulled wine. Spices will overpower the wine flavor, so start with a large jug of something inexpensive and fruity.
- Opt for 8 ounce glasses.
- Serve lots of food. Wine consumption goes down when folks are busy nibbling.
- Encourage responsible drinking. Offer plenty of water and non-alcoholic beverages. Everyone will appreciate it, not just designated drivers and non-drinkers.
- For large parties, name a bartender. Caterers say consumption rises 10% when guest pour their own.
- Don’t stress. A warm, welcoming, relaxed host helps make any gathering a success. Have fun at your own party, and enjoy the holidays!
Have an opinion or question? Email us!
More Online Exclusive articles: