Eat, Drink and Be Merry Five tips for throwing a holiday wine dinner. BY SARAH PIERCE
The holiday season is a perfect time to throw a wine party.
Thereís nothing like the holidays to inspire the inner host or hostess inside you to get to work. Planning a holiday party is easy; good friends, good food and good wine are all it takes to turn a cold winter evening into a night full of warm memories.
"A wine dinner is a wonderful theme for a get-together with friends," says Natalie MacLean, author of Red, White and Drunk All Over (www.nataliemaclean.com). "It can be either a fancy, multi-course meal or a casual potluck where everyone contributes. A variety of wines for the dishes is what makes it fun."
Choosing the right wine for each dish is easier than ever thanks to the accessibility of wine knowledge once reserved for sommeliers, connoisseurs and the occasional wine snob. So relax, have a drink, and try some of MacLeanís suggestions for putting together a memorable wine diner.
* Buy your bottles from regions producing delicious wines at great prices, such as Chile, Argentina and South Africa to keep the budget reasonable.
* Pour just two to three ounces of four wines instead of a glass or two of one wine so that you can try different wines with different dishes.
* Try both red and white wines to see which ones you like best (at the end of the evening, everyone can vote on a favorite wine).
* If you prefer to serve one wine at a time, start with light, dry white wines and progress to full-bodied reds so that each wine has a bolder taste than the last one.
* Finish the meal with a sweet wine, such as a late harvest Riesling or even a port, depending on how rich and sweet your dessert is. Your wine should be sweeter than the dessert so that the wine doesnít taste bitter.
MacLean offers a food-and-wine matcher on her website with more than 364,000 food and wine combinations to help you choose the right wine to complement any dish. From appetizers to dessert, youíll have everything you need to plan a wine dinner your friends will be talking about long after the holidays have passed.