How to Buy Wine for a Party

by JJ Buckley Fine Wines

Group of people clinking glasses of wine

Parties offer the perfect opportunity to spend time with your closest friends and family members. As the host, you want to make sure that everyone has a great time. You also want to ensure that you have plenty of tasty food and delicious wines to go around. ‌‌

But you may not necessarily feel confident that you know how to buy wine for a party. Selecting the right wines for your gathering can feel like a challenging task. This guide will help you decide which wines to choose, no matter what type of get-together you’re hosting.‌

Who’s Coming?

Take a look at your guest list. You’ll need this information for a few things. ‌‌

First, it’ll help you to determine how many bottles you’ll need to buy. There’s a good chance that not everyone will be drinking wine, especially if you’re also planning to have other beverage options. A good rule of thumb is to expect that 50-60% of your guests will choose wine if you’re also serving other drinks.

Second, knowing the guest list can help you ensure that you have something for everyone. For example, if you have guests who are vegan, you'll need a wine produced without animal products. If you’re unsure whether a wine is vegan or not, you can check a producer’s website for information regarding how they filter their wines. ‌‌Sometimes the information is included on the label as well.

Finally, if you know that some of your guests enjoy cabernet sauvignon or that a few others prefer a nice chardonnay, you can have a bottle or two of these varieties ready to serve. This kind of thoughtfulness will make all of your guests feel included at your party.  ‌‌

How Long Is Your Party?

YYou might not know how long your party will be, but you’ll want to estimate how long you think it’ll go on. The length of your party will partly determine how many bottles of wine you’ll need to buy. After all, the last thing you want is for your party to be in full swing and then for someone to tell you, two hours in, that they polished off the last bottle. You don’t want to ask someone to run to the store for you nor, as the host, have to leave your party.‌‌

If you’re just not sure how long you expect your party to last, err on the side of caution and round up. Most parties last for around four hours, but use your best judgment. If you’re hosting a daytime party, you can generally expect it to be shorter than if you were hosting a dinner party or other evening gathering.

Should You Buy Red and White Wine?

It’s never a bad idea to have a selection of reds and whites at your party. After all, it can be challenging to guess what types of wines your guests might want to drink. Offering a few different options ensures there’s something everyone will enjoy. ‌‌

In general, to decide how much white versus red you should get, a good general rule is to have a 60% to 40% ratio. If you’re hosting the party during the warmer months of the year (or if your party will take place during the daytime), 60% of your wines should be white, while the other 40% should be red. Conversely, a party taking place during the cooler months or in the evening should have 60% red and 40% white.‌‌

Here’s something else to keep in mind: You can never go wrong with at least one bottle of sparkling wine. For every six bottles of red and white wine you buy, be sure to get one bottle of sparkling. ‌‌

Are You Pairing Wines With a Meal?

Are you hosting a dinner party or a tasting of some kind? Are you serving seafood or Mexican cuisine? You’ll want to take the food you’re serving into consideration then, too. Pairing the flavors of the food with those of different wines will help to create a memorable experience. ‌

Here are some tips to help you find wines to go with the food you plan to serve at your party:‌‌

  • The wines should match the intensity of the food.
  • Wines should be more acidic or sweeter than the food you’re serving.
  • Consider the sauce (choose your wine based on the sauce, not the meat).

How Many Bottles Do You Need?

Now it’s time to determine how many bottles you’ll need for your party. For this, you need to know how many guests are coming and how long your party will last.

Let’s say you expect 30 people for a party taking place in the evening, and you plan to offer other drinks. Using the information from earlier, you can expect 50-60% of your guests to drink wine. In other words, you’ll need enough wine for 15 to 20 people. If the average person drinks one to two glasses of wine an hour, you’ll need at least 30 glasses for each hour of your gathering.

You expect your party to last a total of four hours. Multiply those four hours by the 30 glasses per hour you’ll need, and that gives you 120 glasses of wine. If the average bottle contains five glasses of wine, you’ll need a total of 24 bottles. ‌

Since your party’s taking place at night, you’ll need 60% red and 40% white. In other words, you’ll need fifteen bottles of red and ten bottles of white (you’ll have to round up). You’ll also want to grab three bottles of sparkling wine, which typically count as whites. ‌

What If You’re Attending a Party?

Are you attending a party where the host enjoys wine? If so, they will probably appreciate being gifted a bottle or two of something special. If you’re not sure what types of wines the host enjoys, you might consider getting one red and one white - or a sparkling wine such as  Champagne. If possible, select bottles from the same winery as gifts for wine lovers. ‌

Buy Wine Confidently for Your Next Party

A party is a fun occasion. Your guests are joining you to have a good time. The wine you serve is there to add a little something extra to your gathering. These steps can help to ensure you select great options to serve and have enough wine to go around. Then, all that’s left for you to do is drink up!‌

No matter what sort of party you’re hosting, JJ Buckley Fine Wines/a> can ensure that you offer an excellent wine selection. And, if you still need help finding the perfect options for your gathering, our consultancy services are here to help. Visit JJ Buckley today to get started.