Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio April
Food & Beverage
BY Joshua Miles
SERVING FINE WINES ON A BUDGET
Plenty of good, inexpensive vintages will suit most palates
at a catered event
Event budgets might be under siege, but decent
wines can be found without breaking the bank or offending taste
buds. When making selections, consider the following advice.
Keep it simple. It’s wise, unless wine is the
focus of the event, not to have too many choices. In general, two
reds and two whites should suffice.
Keep it in the bottle. For receptions, it’s
nice to have a wine station and hire someone who can talk about the
wines. Display bottles on the table so people can see the labels.
There will always be a wine snob at any event, but the person
pouring will have fewer questions to answer if the bottles are in
Avoid pouring the wine ahead of time. It’s more
elegant to have someone pour individual glasses. And it’s
practical: If you pour out all the white, it gets warm; sparkling
wine can go flat.
Check the temperature. The rule is: Serve red
wines at room temperature, white wines with a slight chill.
OUT TO LUNCH
Generally, with a relatively casual lunch, the perfect wine and
food pairing is not so critical. Offer one white and one red wine.
For whites, go with a dry variety, like Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot
Gris something crisp and lively.
As for reds, an inexpensive Pinot Noir would work, or maybe a
Montepulciano from Italy or a Shiraz from Australia. These have
lots of fruit and not a lot of tannin, which comes from grape skins
and leaves a drying sensation in the mouth.
SIP AND MINGLE
For a reception, go classic by pouring sparkling wine. By all
means, look beyond the true Champagnes made only in France. An
Italian Prosecco or a Cava from Spain can be excellent values.
(Cava is made in the traditional methods of Champagne, yet it costs
For a nonsparkling wine at a reception, I would stay with a
crisp white. Reds are heavier, more complicated. You don’t want to
serve a wine that people have to think about; you want it to be
instantly drinkable, immediately pleasing. Lighter Chardonnays
(some especially good choices come from New Zealand) are definitely
crowd pleasers, crisp and light. Pinot Blanc also is good, or even
Vinho Verde from Portugal.
DINNER IS SERVED
When thinking about dinner wines, first focus on the food. The
adage, “white wine with fish, red wine with meat” is old school
nobody pays any attention to it any more. Try to find food-friendly
wines that have a good balance between acidity, body and tannin,
especially when choosing reds.
One simple way to pair wine with food is if the cuisine is
regional, pick a wine from the same region. If there’s a theme for
the food, pick a wine that fits with that theme. For example, if
you’re serving bratwurst, find a good German Riesling.
TRY ONE OF THESE
If value is important, rest assured there are a number of good
wines priced at about $120 or less per case. Following are a few to
To serve anytime. From Argentina, Santa Julia
makes great Merlots and Torrontes (a white variety, like Sauvignon
Blanc). Australian winemaker Buckeley’s offers a Cabernet
Sauvignon/Shiraz blend and a white Semillon/Chardonnay blend.
To serve in flutes. A fine sparkling wine from
Italy is Tonon’s Prosecco. A Spanish Cava to try comes from
Lunch choices. For a crisp white, try the
Bodegas Lurton Pinot Gris from Argentina or the Coopers Creek
Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling from New Zealand.
Two good red choices are Moillard’s Languedoc Pinot Noir from
France, and from Italy, the Il Marrucino Montepulciano
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