Is there such a thing as a good party wine? By good, I don’t mean great, which is rarely what’s needed at a party, unless you have friends who pour Krug like water (an unlikely scenario for most of us). Rather, I guess it means a wine that makes most people happy without breaking the bank. But does that have to be prosecco?
I’d argue not. Not that there’s anything wrong with the stuff – prosecco is a good choice with what is rather offputtingly called “finger food” – but, with the odd exception such as Morrisons’ £6.75 Sorso Prosecco (11%), it’s probably going to cost you a couple of pounds more than an inexpensive still wine, as you’ll see from today’s pick below. Personally, I would go for a bright, breezy white or a soft, fruity and not overly alcoholic red such as a merlot.
I find that people drink less if you limit the choice, so a pair from the same producer often works well. Co-op’s Tilting Tree Sauvignon Blanc, for example, would be a decent buy to go with the merlot in today’s pick (though it’s not as good as the Welmoed also listed), while Aldi’s Mimo Moutinho Dão would make a good partner to its avesso.
A more economical way of handling the situation is obviously to ask everyone to bring a bottle, but if you don’t want to end up with a hideous hotch-potch of hooch, it’s worth giving guests a theme to stick to. Maybe a pie-and-a-pint party, the centrepiece of which could be Felicity Cloake’s pork pie, although no one would complain if it was just sausage, or sausage-less, rolls. Or pigs and pinot, which should obviously include pigs in blankets, pale ale and pizza. Or, for a great budget option, ask everyone to bring a bottle of cava and an interesting bag of crisps (Torres’ fried egg potato chips are my current obsession). Gotta love a bit of alliteration when it comes to a party invitation.
A slightly different approach is required when you’re the guest. Then, it’s a question of bringing something that a) you like and b) wasn’t given to you (and definitely not by the host) for one of your own parties. I think it’s also worth making a bit of an effort to take something interesting, such as Aldi’s Castellore Ribolla Gialla 2021 (£6.99, 11.5%) or Marks & Spencer’s similar version in its Found range (£7.50, 12%); or try Morrisons’ Cidade Branca Alentejo 2021 (£8, 14%), which is one of those lovely, supple Portuguese reds that’s a real crowd-pleaser.
A bottle of champagne always goes down well, though there’s a danger your host will squirrel it away to enjoy on their own and in peace. Aldi’s Veuve Monsigny and Lidl’s Comte de Senneval aren’t as cheap as they used to be, but they’re still less than £15. More fun might be the 12.5% Ferrari Sparkling 2021, a really smart, elegant, Italian fizz from Morrisons and Asda at £23. Just don’t open it racing driver-style.
Four cheap and cheerful party wines
Tilting Tree Merlot 2021 £6 Co-op, 13%. Appealingly soft, fruity red from Moldova. The sauvignon is decent, too.
Welmoed Sauvignon Blanc 2022 £7 Co-op, 13%. If you’re into more citrussy New Zealand sauvignon, this take from Stellenbosch is a great buy.
Mimo Moutinho Portuguese Avesso 2021 £5.99 Aldi, 12.5%. Bright, crisp and fresh: no one will know you’ve spent only six quid. The fruity red dão from the same range would be a good accompanying red.
Taste the Difference Colchagua Merlot 2021 £7 Sainsbury’s, 13.5%. Smooth, velvety, Chilean merlot that will hit the spot for lovers of new-world reds.
For more by Fiona Beckett, go to fionabeckett.substack.com