If you’ve been invited to a dinner party, you may be busy planning what to wear so you look your best. But don’t forget about one of the most important details to plan before that dinner party: what bottle of wine are you bringing? After all, you don’t want to show up empty-handed, and wine is always a great gift to bring a host who has generously offered to make you dinner. If you’re stumped on what kind of wine to bring, let these tips get you started so you can show up confidently with a bottle in hand, ready to enjoy the dinner party.
1. Ask the Host What to Bring
The most straightforward way to find out what kind of wine to bring is to simply ask the host. He or she might have a favorite wine to drink or share, and would be thrilled if you could bring a bottle. Or the host might be short a bottle or two of the wine he or she planned to serve with dinner, and having you bring more would be a lifesaver. Of course, some hosts have no preferences on wine and just tell guests to bring what they want, in which case you can use the tips below to narrow down your options.
2. Choose Based on the Food Being Served
If you know what the host is serving for dinner, you can use common food pairings to guide you on what wine to bring. In general, lighter, white wines are good for light foods, while red wines pair better with darker, richer foods. For example, Chardonnay goes great with chicken and seafood, while Pinot Noir is often perfect with steak or burgers. Of course, this is just the basic rule of thumb of wine pairing. You can learn more by reading our blog on wine and meat pairing tips to dig more into what type of white or red to bring depending on the food that will be served.
3. Bring a Snack to Pair with the Wine You Bring
If you don’t know what will be served for dinner and you don’t want to ask, you can always bring something you know will pair well with the wine you have in mind. The easiest option is to bring a nice cheese to share, assuming you know the basics of pairing wine with cheese. For example, Chardonnay often goes best with cream cheese, blue cheese, or aged sheep’s cheese, while Cabernet Sauvignon pairs best with aged cheddar cheese.
4. Keep the Weather in Mind
Another way to decide what wine to bring to dinner is to check the weather report. If it’s going to be warm outside, bring a refreshing, chilled wine. This might be a Rosé or a Chardonnay that will be served chilled as guests mingle on the back patio, waiting for dinner to be ready. For a colder night, stick with a bold, heavy red wine, such as a full-bodied Syrah or Zinfandel from Sweet Oaks.
5. Think About What the Guests Would Enjoy
Before you choose a bottle of wine to bring to the dinner party, think about who will be there. If it’s not really a crowd that loves wine, don’t spend too much on the bottle you bring, as it’s likely the guests won’t enjoy it enough to justify the price. If it’s more of a beer-loving crowd, you can still bring some wine, but first, consider reading our tips on wine tasting for a beer drinker so you have an idea on the type to bring for the best results! On the other hand, if any of the guests going are wine connoisseurs, this is your chance to show off your knowledge of good wine, so don’t be afraid to spring for a really nice bottle you can be proud to share.
6. Bring a Bottle You’d Want to Drink
If you’re hoping for the host to open the bottle of wine you bring and share it with dinner, make sure you actually want to drink it. If you won’t even have a glass of the bottle you bring, it’s unlikely anyone else will be interested in it, either. So make sure whatever you bring has your stamp of approval, ensuring at least one person at the dinner party will enjoy it!
7. Don’t Be Afraid to Bring More Than One Bottle
The only thing better than a bottle of wine is two bottles, right? So if the guests at the dinner party tend to like wine, it’s best to bring more than one bottle to share. This way, it’s unlikely the host will run out of wine during or after dinner, meaning you and the other guests will have a little more time to sit around socializing over a few drinks. Consider bringing one bottle to share during dinner, and then a dessert wine to sip on after the meal. This will get you bonus points with both the host and his or her guests!