It’s 4:00 on December 18th and dinner at Craig and Shirley’s begins in an hour. They’ve been uncharacteristically hush about what they’re serving. They’ve also tasked you with bringing enough wine for nine people. This is a combination of factors frightening enough to make the bravest cringe.
But, thankfully, you have the wine police on your side with our multitude wisdoms and guidance. Think of it this way, you’re Bilbo Baggins and we’re Samwise Gamgee. We’re at your side and at your service, through your epic journey to bring the ring to safety!
Well, we think you get the idea. In this instance, it will be important to recall as much as you can about these people. Accuracy in the following questions will mean the difference between success and failure in your mission to select delicious wines for the meal they are preparing.
1. What are your hosts tastes in wine like?
2. What are the other guests’ tastes in wine like?
3. Do your hosts have a European aesthetic or a more traditional American one?
4. What do they drive?
5. What is their astrological sign?
Now, equipped with a little background you are prepared to wow them with a wine that will please everyone at the dinner party. Let’s say your answers look like this:
1. Only local, these are farm-to-mouth kind of folks.
2. The guests all love Pinot Noir (you visited Domaine Drouhin with them last year).
3. They subscribe to Dwell – no recliners with cup holders in this house.
4. They drive a Prius (but the husband has installed a turbo charger to gain horsepower).
5. They are both Virgos.
Now, using our patented KnowsPicker algorithm, we can tell you the following:
In order to provide the proper amount of social lubrication, you’re going to need these five bottles. Or at least that’s what the algorithm says:
Your upwardly mobile hosts and vineyard-visiting guests are the kind of people who expect to start a dinner party with a bottle of sparkling wine. Tonight it will be J. Albin’s Brut Rosé of Pinot Noir. Not many drinks say fun like sparkling wine does. Plus, your host drives a turbocharged Prius – this is the kind of strange expression of masculinity that lends itself perfectly to sparkling pink wine.
Second will be Buty’s 2010 Sauvignon Blanc/Muscadelle. Sauvignon Blanc is the Kenneth Branagh of wine: it’s ubiquitous and you’ve tried to hate it, but….it’s so delicious! The folks at Buty use their classical training to blend it seamlessly with Semillon to make a crisp yet generously textured and aromatic white. Whatever the first course is, this versatile stuff will handle it with grace. And yes, Washington is local!
The third wine needs to be a Pinot Noir. Your crowd unanimously agrees that Pinot is cool enough to join the party and this time it is going to be the Brittan Vineyards 2009 Basalt Block. Brittan offers that unique combination of elegance and power, a kiss and a slap at the same time, if you will. This ensures that whether it is Filet Mignon, Pigs in a Blanket or Halibut, you’ll get a fantastic marriage of flavors.
The fourth wine will serve as a backup to the third. Should your host serve two protein courses, the 2010 Fausse Piste Garde Manger Syrah, will step in to provide relief. Plus, Syrah is one of those grapes that is liked by all sorts. Think of it as the bipartisan grape. If you are a fan of ripe black and blue fruits, you’ll find it here. Pepper and spice notes? Yep. Savory game and mineral your thing? You won’t be let down. And with the perfect measure of acidity, this one will keep your palate fit for whatever lands on it next.
The last wine is going to be lightly sweet and light on alcohol. By this point in the meal hilarious stories have been exchanged and some of you have likely said things you’ll regret. The 2011 Tethy’s Late Harvest Riesling by Brooks will step in at the right moment and change the subject from Craig’s vasectomy to something altogether more palatable.
At this point in the game your palate is in a more forgivable position than it was at the beginning of the evening. So, whether dessert is Death by Fudge or a persimmon tart, this divine nectar will work just fine.
We hope this issue of the Wine Police has been of use, and hope your wine gifting is fraught free this holiday season!
Author Jean Yates