How to Serve Wine (and Impress Your In-Laws) Like a Pro
Let’s get real, one of the best parts of getting married is actually after the wedding when you’re able to host and entertain your friends & family. Not only does it give you time to ooo and ahh over your new goodies, but it also gives you an additional excuse to pop open some bubbly and celebrate. As fun as this can be, we often hear from our couples on ThirstyNest - the first wine and spirits wedding registry - that newlyweds feel a lot of pressure to impress their guests when hosting and serving wine. So we’re going to give you some quick tips on how to do that with wine pairing and pouring hacks from the pros.
One of the most confusing aspects of wine is what temperature to serve for maximum enjoyment. The true rules of the game are to serve sparkling wine the coldest at 45 degrees fahrenheit, white wine between 45-50 and red from 50-55.
I know what you’re thinking. Do I have to whip out a thermometer for this? Of course not, just try this simple trick: Put both your sparkling and white wine in the fridge an hour or more before the party. Take your white wine out of the fridge 15 minutes before serving and put you reds into the fridge 15 minutes before serving. That will give your whites enough time to shake off the chill and your reds a few minutes to cool down.
If you’re still looking for those perfect entertaining items but are unsure what those are (we get it, there’s SO much information out there), we’re here to simplify and give you the official ultimate essentials checklist.
One of our favorite innovations in the last few years have been Universal Wine Glasses. No need to put out double the glassware for red and white with these guys. They’ll work for all your bottles across the board. These Fusion Air glasses are especially practical as they’re dishwasher safe and come with a 10-year warranty. (Helpful in case there’s a party foul!)
A few other must-have essentials - and many can even be personalized - include a wine opener. It will be the busiest piece of equipment at the party. A beautiful decanter for special bottles to really impress your guests and our favorite is a gorgeous bar cart to display it all.
My go-to pairing rules to follow are similar with similar and opposite with opposite. What that means is depending on what you’re eating try to either pair it with a similar flavor profile or its exact opposite for nearly perfect matches every time.
If the food is light and delicate enjoy it with a similarly light and delicate wine. An example would be baked trout with fresh herbs and Sancerre. Sancerre is a crisp, fresh sauvignon blanc grown in the Loire region of France. It has refreshing acidity and lean stony flavors. If you’re enjoying something more on the big and juicy front like a grilled steak, go with a bold and juicy California Zinfandel.
As for opposites, anything super salty try it with something sweet like a rich savory Stilton Blue with an off-dry German Riesling. (Off-dry means slightly sweet. Who knew, right?) Or on the other end – crispy yummy fried chicken pairs well with its opposite – a bright and light sparkling wine! Similarly, Champagne and french fries are a match made in Francophile heaven.
5. Foul-proof Pairing
When it all becomes too much to plan or if you’re doing pot luck style and don't know what to expect, there are always a few fail-safe workhorse wines I love to serve. The best way to choose one of these universal-pairing wines are typically middle of the road in style with light fruit, bright acidity and are generally just likeable.
Great examples of these would be something like an Oregon or any cool climate Pinot Noir. Pinot has delicious fruit and the cool climate means it will be lighter with higher acidity. It will pair with fish, meat and vegetables. Another great option is dry rose! Yes, rose isn’t just for fun -- it’s also for food. It’s light fruit and high acid makes it a perfect pair-all with almost any dish your guests throw at you. Plus - who doesn’t like to drink it?
Overall drink what you like and don’t worry too much about what your guests think. They’re just excited to see you and your fiance together creating your happily ever after! For more questions on wine and spirits etiquette, or to set up your own wine and spirits wedding registry, check out ThirstyNest!
By Jacqueline Strum