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The Wine-Lover’s Guide to Parties

Serving Temperature Application

–By Bruce Schoenfeld–

Throwing a party? Great news! Though you might include beer or even a cocktail bar, if you’re reading this story, you probably want to concentrate on serving wine. (I sometimes throw parties as an excuse to open half a dozen bottles from my cellar that are at their peak and need to be consumed.)

Here are a few tips to help make the party a vinous success:

  • Serve enough wine. The late Frank Prial, who wrote the wine column in The New York Times for a quarter-century, once told me that when he hosted a dinner party, he allocated one bottle of wine per person. I ignored him—once!—and paid the price in thirsty guests, so I’ve been following his gospel ever since. It sounds like too much, I know. But over the course of three or four hours, nearly all of it will get consumed.
  • Know your audience. If it’s a small fete for a few wine-geek friends, bring out some of those bottles you’ve been hoarding in the back of your cellar. If it’s refreshments for the parents at a five-year-old’s birthday party, on the other hand, that calls for a magnum or two of easy-drinking rosé.
  • Chill the reds and the whites. Unless you’re catering an ice-fishing event, as wine adjusts to the ambient temperature it gets warmer, not colder. So don’t be afraid to start the proceedings with the wine at cellar temperature, or even a little cooler. Your guests will thank you for it when they finally get to that big Napa red an hour or two in.

And if the party isn’t yours? I’m a wine writer, so when people invite me to their events, I like to bring something intriguing, lesser-known and unexpected. I’ve pulled some pretty good bottles, figuring I’ll make sure to get a glass or two. Too often, though, my hosts thanked me for the bottle and stashed it away in their own cellar.

To mitigate that, I’ve developed a strategy. First, bring two bottles: something you won’t miss as a gift for the home and then something else to drink that night. And then, to make sure it actually does get consumed, open the bottle in advance. If it’s young and tannic, take the opportunity to decant the wine, then pour it back into the original bottle (after rinsing that to remove lingering sediment). When you arrive, tell them you needed to (a) make sure the wine you were bringing wasn’t corked, and (b) give it some air.

Finally, pull out the cork and start to pour!


The Serving Temperature option allows a Wine Guardian wine-cellar cooling unit to control to an extended temperature range from 42°F to 64°F (5°C to 18°C).  This option is ideal for single to multiple cabinet applications and small wine rooms where consumption-temperature cooling is preferred. Read our Q&A article with a sommelier. See five underrated wine regions.