People ask me what is my favorite wine or a related question—can I recommend a special wine to take to a party.
I do not have a favorite. The best part of wine is drinking different wines. When pressed, I favor blended reds. I also love pinot noir from Burgundy or Washington State. If pressed about whites, I offer sauv blanc to match with food or quality sparkling to add fun.
My answers leave out malbecs from Argentina and rieslings from Germany or New York Finger Lakes, plus Italian and Spanish wines and several others. And, thus, we circle back to the original answer that I enjoy almost everything.
Recommending a special wine to bring to a party has an easy answer and an inherent problem.
Red is the easy answer. Red wines please more people than white wines. If you budget $20 or less, syrah/shiraz delivers fruit, tannin, acidity and people are familiar with it. Malbec falls between cabernet sauvignon (too intense for some) and merlot (too mellow for others). If it is a party hearty crowd, throw a in high octane California zinfandel.
Whites are polarizing. Oak or stainless steel? Food-friendly acidity or buttery malolactic mouth feel? Bone dry or off dry or semi-sweet. The exception is sparkling wine. If you are willing to spend more than $20, sparkling is the right white answer.
Recommending a “special” wine has an inherent problem. Unless you are in the wine store, it is almost impossible to recommend a special wine your friend can easily find. There are nice wines you can find almost anywhere, but these will not likely be special. That is the nature of commodity wines. You can have nationwide distribution and production of tens of thousands of cases or you can have something special, but you can’t have both.
Take a wine you like to your party. If your friends like it, great. If they don’t, enjoy it yourself.
• 19 Crimes Cabernet Sauvignon 2015: Smooth, widely available, nicely priced. $10
• Pike Road Pinot Noir 2014: Solid value, no flaws, created by experienced, talented family. $19
Last round: When it comes to wine, I know my limits. I don’t pay attention to them, but I do know them.