House parties are probably the best kind of parties. Nothing spells out flawless better than unlimited drinks, great food, your choice of music, and a handpicked guest list in the comfort of your house. But to successfully plan out a house party, certain things should be taken into consideration. For instance, what kind of food and how much of it? Similarly, before you raid the wine shop and restock your bar, there are a few things that you should know. Because let’s face it, no one notices how good the wine is if you serve it in the wrong kind of glass or even at an awkward temperature.
We got talking to wine and spirit educator Ajit Balgi, who is the Founder & Beverage Consultant at The Happy High, to brush up on our alcohol-serving knowledge. And here are a few tips shared by the beverage expert that you need to arm yourself with before your next house party.
Needless to point out, when serving wine, it advisable that you skip plastic glasses or dixie cups. To best enjoy any wine, a stemmed glass is a must. Not only do these glasses guarantee maximum flavour and aroma, but also the stem makes sure that your body temperature does not warm up the wine. While true wine aficionados may segregate their wine glasses by grape, appellation, vintage, and style, you don’t have to burn a hole in your pocket just to stock up on extensive glassware. You can simply equip your bar with some All-Purpose wine glasses, a.k.a. AP wine glasses. Roughly 10-12 AP wine glasses should be fine for a regular party.
It is common knowledge that white wine should be served chilled and red wine should be at room temperature. But how cold exactly is “chilled” and which room are we referring to for the red wine? There is a fine print attached to both these temperature norms. The “room temperature” being referred to for red wine is the European room temperature, which means “anywhere between 14-18 degree Celsius”, says Balgi. Meanwhile, white wine tastes best when chilled at 8-10 degree Celsius. Although the temperature variation depends on the kind of wine, this is an approximate temperature bracket that can be referred to.
Vintage, in simpler terms, refers to “how old the wine is” Balgi clarifies, adding that typically people believe that the older the wine is, the better it will be, but that’s not always the case. So, if you’re not sure about the age of the wine or whether the spirit is aged or simply old, just buy the youngest vintage possible. So, given that it’s 2018 now, novice drinkers can purchase a 2017 or a 2016 wine.
So, you’ve bought the wine with the right vintage, stored it at the requisite temperature, now what? Now you open the bottle and taste the wine. Now, we understand that not everyone is a sommelier, but that’s okay because “you can put to use whatever wine knowledge you have” and even “put the bottle out and involve your guests in discussing the condition of the wine”, Balgi adds. And we agree, because, at parties, there is no better love than the love for alcohol and politics!
For the uninitiated, a decanter is a glass container or a vessel that is used to store the wine before pouring it out into glasses. So how is it any better than pouring it from a bottle? Balgi explains: “when the wine comes out of a bottle into the glass, it (the wine) does not know how to react, so it closes”, so transferring it into the glass decanter roughly 30-60 minutes before serving helps open up the wine. That said, this method works best with really old or costly wines or with any heavy-bodied red wine, which can – and preferably should – be decanted irrespective of vintage and cost.
About The Happy High
The Happy High stems from the need for quality wine and spirit education and even consultation regarding the same. The company, with Balgi at its helm, helps hotels and bars chalk out their wine and cocktail list. The Happy High also helps conceptualise and execute wine programs for hotels and curate whisky tastings, wine degustation, and cocktail demos among many other activities for corporates. Additionally, Balgi and his team represent country boards and assist foreign wine and spirit companies looking to enter India while broadcasting information and news from the world of wines, spirits and other alcoholic beverages through their online platform.