Party Planning Guide

Depending on the range of wine lovers and wine gulpers you invite to your dinner or party, here are some guidelines of how much wine and what type to have on hand as well as tips for properly serving it.

How Much Wine to Have on Hand

Cocktail Parties:

  • Plan on ½ bottle of wine per person for each 2-hour period.
  • If your event begins before 5pm, or you're also serving liquor or beer, it's a little less and you can plan ½ bottle of wine per person per 3-hour period.
  • If guests will serve themselves, add 10% to your estimate.


  • Plan on 1½ glasses per course per person. Each regular size bottle (750ml) will pour five 5-oz. servings.
  • So for each course you can estimate:
    [# of guests] x [1.5] / 5 = # of bottles you will need per course.

Which Wines to Serve?

    Consider a few factors:
  • The time of day you are hosting
  • The food you are serving
  • The theme of the party
  • The weather

General Planning Tips:

  • For evening and holiday parties: plan on 40% white/ 60% red
  • For daytime or summer: plan on 70% white wine / 30 % red
  • To round out your wines, don’t forget about sparkling wine which is great to serve at parties, as an aperitif before a meal or even paring with food. If serving only for a toast, you only need to pour about a third of a glass so plan on one bottle of Champagne for every 8 guests
  • In the summer months rosé is an ideal choice and pairs with a wide variety of foods.

Cocktail Parties:

Choose White wines that are versatile and easy to drink. In general, Chardonnay is extremely popular. On a warm day, a crisp, refreshing Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio is always nice.

For Red wine, Merlot is a popular crowd pleaser because of its chocolate flavors and soft finish. Pinot Noir is very versatile and an excellent red wine choice for cooler weather due to its warm earthy characteristics. Fruity, spicy Syrah is also a good choice.

Don’t forget about Sparkling Wine!
Champagne makes any occasion festive and is great for a parties and celebrations. But if you are looking for something less expensive, other French sparkling wines like Crémant or Italian Prosecco are affordable choices that will still dazzle your guests.

Dinner Parties:

Pair the wine varietal with each course. Remember there are no hard and fast rules, but it’s best to match the weight, texture and intensity of the food to that of the wine. Heavy foods stand up best to more full-flavored, full-bodied wines while the more subtle, lighter dishes match up with a delicate white. The most unbeatable pairings are those that enhance the flavors of both the food and the wine. For more tips, check out our Pairing Guide.