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Wine Reviews: Wines for big parties, wines for Christmas parties, Christmas party wine, holiday party
Happy holidays, Vino Joe style
by: Vino Joe (e-mail

Wine Reviews Home / Vices Channel / Wine Web Guide

Having a big party, like a birthday, barbecue, anniversary, graduation or, perhaps, a holiday party? When hosting a bunch of people, you likely will want to buy a few "safe" wines in volume, rather than ponder over which vintage of Bordeaux to choose for the occasion. Here are some suggestions: 

First, you have to recognize the fact that not EVERYONE is an aspiring snob such as yourself; therefore you will be smart to provide some cheap blush wine (such as white zinfandel) and simple reds and whites. Yes, we all know how much Vino Joe hates wine in a box, but the fact remains that there are people out there who enjoy it, and when hosting, your goal is to make your guests happy -- not educate them. After all, the focus is on the celebration, not the wine. Absolutely buy a box wine (or a really inexpensive jug) if you know there are guests who like "spritzers." There’s no point in spending money on a fine wine that won’t even be appreciated. Along the same lines, if you want to serve mimosas, DO NOT waste your money on a vintage Champagne; go against my normal suggestion and buy a cheap sparkler -- the kind with the plastic cork. We’re talking J. Roget as opposed to Pol Roger.

If you’d like to serve sangria (see recipe below), try to use a light, fruity, inexpensive red wine, such as a Gamay, Beaujolais Nouveau, or similar. Vino Joe highly recommends Carlo Rossi Paisano for red sangria. If you choose to make white sangria, use a similarly light and fruity white wine; many inexpensive Colombard-Ugni Blanc or Sauvignon-Semillon "Vin de Pays" blends from France will work well, as does Paul Masson “Chablis” (get the big jug). 

Okay, now that we’ve covered the cheap wines for the ignoramouses, what to serve for the aspiring snobs? Since you’ll likely be serving a large array of dishes, both hot and cold, you’ll want to serve whites and reds that match well with almost anything. For whites, stick with Pinot Grigio, Orvieto, and unoaked Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay. Some brands to look for are Luna di Luna, Folonari, Fortant de France, Carta Vieja and Vendange. For reds, go with Chianti, Bardolino, Merlot, Malbec (from Argentina), and red wines from the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France. Again, Folonari is a reliable brand, as are Rene Junot, Trapiche, Luna di Luna and Georges Duboeuf.

Remember, you can always ask Vino Joe for more specific suggestions!

Vino Joe’s Sangria

1.5 liter bottle (or two 750ml) of light, red, fruity wine (Carlo Rossi Paisano suggested)
6 oz. (3/4 cup) triple sec (preferred brand: Gran Gala)
6 oz. Orange juice (Tropicana pure premium)
3 oz. (3/8 cup) Lime juice (Rose’s is good, fresh squeezed even better)
½ cup sugar
16 oz. Club soda
1 orange, sliced
1 lemon, sliced
2 apples, sliced

In a big bowl, mix all of the above together except for the club soda. Refrigerate for two hours. Right before serving (usually into pitchers), stir in the club soda and add ice.

For White Sangria, use white wine (Vino Joe suggestion: Falling Star Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon or Paul Masson “Chablis”) in place of red, and add peaches and mint sprigs.

(Brands are suggested for a really tasty, high quality sangria. You can use the cheapest ingredients if you wish, but it won’t taste as great. Vino Joe comes from the Vince Lombardi school of “there is only one way: the right way.”)

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