Pick the best wine and try these wine-serving tips at your next party

Sara Schneider

Used right, wine can help make dinner parties stellar events.Here are tips for successful entertaining.

Start light
Wine before dinner has the same job as appetizers: to teaseyour palate and make you want to keep consuming, not tire yourtaste buds and get you to your alcohol limit fast. Pour somethingcold and crisp, with a reasonably low alcohol level ―Sauvignon Blanc or a dry Chenin Blanc or Riesling. If someone musthave red, make it light and lively: Pinot Noir.

Go for personality
Match the wine to the mood of the food rather than itsintricate flavors ― a hearty, casual (inexpensive) red withbarbecue, for instance; a more elegant, special red with anexpensive steak.

Pour in pairs
Two glasses of the same color of wine in front of people spurdinner conversation: Does the Chardonnay or the Sauvignon Blanc domore for the pesto chicken? The Zinfandel or Syrah for the leg oflamb?

Help yourself
Survival tip from an easily derailed hostess: Don't make themistake of eating nothing until your guests arrive. Otherwise, thefirst glass of wine you have will be on an empty stomach and willbring on the alcohol fuzzies quickly, muddling your endgame forgetting dinner on the table.

Wine basics:

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