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Cheaper By the Dozen: Buying Wine for a Crowd

One of the most common questions I'm asked is, "I'm having a party. How much wine should I buy?" And with entertaining season approaching, I thought it was the perfect time to talk about wine for a crowd.

Here is an average guide of how much wine to buy for a dinner party and a cocktail party. One (750mL) bottle of wine yields about 5 glasses of wine.

Dinner party: 4 guests per bottle. (To slow down the flow of wine at a dinner party make sure there is water on the table so the guests have something to sip on besides vino.)

Cocktail party: 2 guests per bottle for a four-hour party; for an afternoon party plan on 3 guests per bottle. (When guests serve themselves you’ll be amazed at how fast the wine goes.) If you really don’t want to be caught running out, plan on 1 bottle per person (and then you can enjoy any leftover wine yourself!).

If you know your crowd, then buy according to taste. But if you’re planning to drink with unknowns, plan on more people drinking white than red. Generally it’s 60/40 white to red, but again, it depends on if you’re serving roast lamb or grilled fish or hosting an appetizer and wine party.

            Two tips to remember before you hit the wine store:  If you’re having more than 6 guests, think about buying by the case. You’ll save at least 10 percent in most wine stores. And remember, it’s always better to have too much than too little; nothing kills a party faster than the booze running out.


        Finally, one other question people often ask: Do you have to serve the bottle of wine that you got as a hostess gift? In a word, no. It’s a gift, not a demand. If it goes with the meal, then open it up. But if it’s something special that you want to savor or it just doesn’t fit the party or the menu, smile, say thank you, and stash it in the pantry.