One of the most important considerations for a catered event is the kind of drinks to serve with food being offered. Whether you're hosting a wedding, wine-and-cheese fundraiser or a cocktail, the selection of wine you have will contribute significantly to the success of the event. A good wine list is one which complements the meals being served as well as suits the different wine drinkers in style, variety and price. Below are some tips to help you create a wine list your guests will appreciate:
1. The rule of thirds
The challenge in building an event wine list is that you can't have the kind of selection a permanent establishment like a restaurant can. A general rule many sommeliers use is to split the selection between rich, broad and toasty wines, fresh and crisp wines and the high-acid and off-dry unoaked wines. Then, for each category, have one type in each price range: affordable, moderately expensive and expensive. You can approach the maître d' at your favourite restaurant and ask him to help you distinguish and choose between different wines if you have no idea where to begin.
2. Taste the wines
Whether you're sourcing for your own wine from a supplier or have it as part of your catering charge, taste all the wines you want to have on your list. You can bring along someone with different tastes from you so that you have an objective opinion of the various wines. Having a bartender or someone with real experience can make this step easier for you. If wine is provided by your caterers, ensure they serve a sample of each wine for you to have during the food tasking so that you can assess how well they accompany the food.
3. Expensive isn't necessarily best
You may not need to worry about budget if guests will pay for their own drinks. If you're having an open bar, however, the cost of wine is a huge factor when building your list. A way around this is to have two good-quality and affordable red, sparkling and white wine served to the guests with meals, and then offering a different selection that guests would buy from. If you have expensive wines, ensure they are really special, and they work well with your food concept.
4. Work with the meal
Sparkling rose and sparkling white ones are excellent choices before guests settle down to eat. Still wine varieties are better accompaniments to meals—offer two contrasting choices of red and white wines depending on guests' preferences. Also, do not restrict the type of wine guests can have with the meal: allow them to have both red and white throughout as they deem fit so that they can really enjoy the event.
5. Choose your quantities
White wine is typically more popular than red, so have more of the former. When budgeting, a safe bet is to assign five glasses per bottle of wine, and five glasses per guest. If you have a little extra left over, you can use it to stock your own cellar at home, or give to people as thank-you gifts. Don't forget to have bubbly wines for the toasts.