9 Budget-Friendly Party Ideas

Go easy on your pocketbook, but big on the fun with our inexpensive wine-and-food pairings for everything from movie night to Sunday brunch.

  • Bring the Party Home
    By Brooke Smith

    Bring the Party Home

    Bar tabs and restaurant bills add up quickly when you're out with a group. Ease the strain on your wallet by entertaining at home instead of going out. To provide a little inspiration, we've come up with 9 low-cost, D.I.Y. party ideas, complete with simple and affordable wine and food pairing suggestions. Now, all you have to do is start making the guest list.

  • Roquefort Quiche
    By Brooke Smith, Photo: Susie Cushner

    Brunch: Riesling & Roquefort Quiche

    Invite friends over for casual mid-day brunch and serve quiche with a crisp, refreshing, accessibly priced Washington State Riesling. One of the most versatile, food-friendly whites due to its intrinsic acidity, Riesling can hold its own with the saltiness of the bacon and the overall richness and creaminess of the quiche. Plus, if you're trying to limit the bar cost for the party, hosting during daylight hours is the way to go.
  • Debbie's Dumplings
    By Brooke Smith, James Carrier

    Happy Hour: Prosecco & Fried Dumplings

    Happy Hour at your place calls for a simple snack paired with an easy-going sparkling wine. Prosecco, from Veneto, Italy, is an ideal match for both Asian cuisine and fried foods so whip up flavorful dumplings and experience the pleasing contrast between the wine's effervescence and the crunchy fried wonton.
  • Bagel Roll
    By Brooke Smith, Becky Luigart-Stayner; Lydia DeGaris-Pursell and Jan Gautro

    No Boys Allowed: Vinho Verde & Bagel Rolls

    Vinho Verde is a young, fizzy, crisp, and inexpensive white wine from Portugal that pairs delightfully with all types of sushi rolls. To keep it simple, either pick up a few rolls from your favorite gourmet food shop or make it a fun, collective effort and sip Vinho Verde while making your own rolls with your best gal pals. Start with a simple six-ingredient roll that calls for smoked salmon.
  • Popcorn with Brown Butter and Parmesan
    By Brooke Smith, Photo: Quentin Bacon

    Movie Night: New World Chardonnay & Popcorn

    Movies, popcorn, and...Chardonnay? Yes, indeed. Pick up a bottle of slightly oaked, New World-style Chardonnay on your way home from the video store, make some 'real' buttered popcorn (not that microwave stuff), plant yourself on the couch, and press 'play.' The rich, toasty flavors of the wine mirror the rich, buttery goodness of the popcorn. Who knew it could be so easy?
  • Multicolored-Pepper Steaks with Balsamic Onions
    By Brooke Smith, Leigh Beisch

    Casual Couples' Party: Malbec & Peppercorn Steaks

    Have your best paired-off friends over for peppercorn-crusted steaks on the grill, delicious, affordably priced Argentine Malbec, and, of course, good conversation. An ideal accompaniment to beef, this medium- to full-bodied, rustic-and-spicy, yet lush-and-fruity red wine has tannins hefty enough to cut through the fat of these juicy, peppery grilled steaks.
  • Pork Picadillo Empanadas
    By Brooke Smith

    Book Club: Garnacha & Pork Empanadas

    Simple, homemade empanadas stuffed with a well-seasoned, spicy pork filling will keep your book club guests coming back for more, especially while they're sipping a glass of Garnacha, the fruit forward, food-friendly, value-packed red wine from Spain. This lively and full-bodied wine has enough spice, fruit, minerality, and earthiness to stand up to the heartiness and spice of the empanadas.
  • Pepperoni Pizza
    By Brooke Smith, Photo: Randy Mayor; Styling: Cindy Barr

    Date Night: Barbera & Homemade Pepperoni Pizza

    Impress your other half with a made-from-scratch pepperoni pizza and an affordable bottle of Barbera, a juicy, versatile Italian red that pairs well with tomato sauce-based dishes. The bright acidity of this fruity, low-tannin wine will make your mouth water and have you coming back for "just one more slice."
  • Guacamole
    By Brooke Smith, Photo: Ralph Anderson; Styling: Lisa Powell Bailey

    Fiesta Night: Sauvignon Blanc & Guacamole

    Who says you have to enjoy tacos with a margarita or a Corona when you can sip Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand? This crisp, citrus-y, herbaceous white wine accompanies freshly made guacamole like a charm. The zingy acidity of the wine works in tandem with the fresh lime juice in the guacamole and delightfully offsets the richness of the avocados.
  • Barbara's Big Juicy Burgers
    By Brooke Smith

    Neighborhood Block-Party: Beaujolais and Burgers

    Invite your neighbors over for a casual backyard party with Beaujolais wine and grilled burgers. Beaujolais wines from France (which are much more than just that 'Nouveau' stuff) are a great match for burgers because of their lively acidity, juicy fruitiness, and soft tannins. You can even drink the more youthful Beaujolais a little bit chilled, which is perfect for outdoor summertime sipping.
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