Bottles and Pours: How to Plan Four Wine Dinners in a Day

January 3, 2011

in Dining,Events,Food,Wine

“Would you mind looking at the attached menu, and making recommendations for wine pairings?” I received a version of this e-mail from different departments of the hotel three times within an afternoon. Coincidentally, they arrived as I was planning a wine dinner for the restaurant at the hotel. This is one of the best parts of my job. So, I decided to tackle all four dinners, and thought that I would share the planning.

A few of the wines used for pairing in one of the upcoming dinners.

There are many ways to learn how to pair food with wine. Several books are widely available. Two excellent examples are Perfect Pairings: A Master Sommelier’s Practical Advice for Partnering Food with Wine by Evan Goldstein MS and Joyce Goldstein; and Great Tastes Made Simple by Andrea Robinson MS. Restaurants plan events that will highlight the principles of food and wine pairing. And, wine pros enjoy assisting with this aspect of the business. When I get e-mail requests, normally the menu is attached and pairing the wines is relatively easy. However, what does not get included in the e-mails, nor discussed in most wine books, is the logistics of the wine dinner.

I am asked many questions on this subject:

– “I’m inviting [insert number here] friends over for dinner? How much wine will I need?”

– “I have a special wine that I want to share with friends at a dinner party. However, I have only [insert number here] bottles? What do I do?”

– “How large of a pour is appropriate at a dinner party?”

The answers do not require a Ph.D. in mathematics, just a few simple numbers. Most important: 25.4. That’s the number of ounces in a standard 750ml bottle of wine (the “normal” size), and enough for 5 five-ounce pours. However, not all dinner parties are for five people. So, we need to make adjustments. A helpful cheat sheet includes pour sizes and number of people served from a 750ml bottle of wine. Here it is:

2 oz. pours – 12 people

3 oz. pours – 8 people

4 oz. pours – 6 people

5 oz. pours – 5 people

6 oz. pours – 4 people

Additional numbers determined by you, the host, are the types of wines, number of bottles of each wine, and people attending. With these numbers in hand, the planning can begin. In the next post, I will use the dinners mentioned above as examples of how to plan the logistics of various types of wine dinners.

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