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Red Wine recs needed for menu

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A friend has asked for red wine recs for her upcoming party. It's a casual affair and with what she is making and what she's heard others are bringing, she is expecting to have

chicken wings, spicy meatballs, crab ball and crackers, chicken salad puffs, scallops wrapped in bacon, deli platter and snowflake rolls, sausage balls, crab dip,salsa, a veggie platter,
individual crème brulees, chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter choc chip cookies, chocolate truffles.

They'll have a full bar and beer but want to offer wine, too. Any ideas?
Pricewise, I'd say modest, maybe up to $25 per bottle?


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  1. You can't go wrong with a basic Merlot. Franzia makes a pretty good one, and is reasonably priced.

    1. It *sounds* like a cocktail party -- i.e.: standing up, trays of food being passed around and/or on a buffet table -- rather than a sit-down dinner party. In that case, I wouldn't spend anywhere near $25/bottle on wine. Spend much less, and get a decent Merlot or Pinot Noir in the $10-15 range. (think La Crema, for example)

      If she's "embarassed" at the thought of serving, say Kendall-Jackson, while people are also drinking Chivas Regal, she can always pull a Nixon . . . or just serve the wine from decanters.

      1 Reply
      1. re: zin1953

        Where do you get La Crema Pinot Noir for 10-15$$$$...........???

      2. Thank you for your replies, i've passed them along. And you're right, it is not a dinner party. Actually, when I typed my post I hit send before writing a title. The kind folks watching out for dopes like me added one for me. I think that before the site changed a post wouldn't go through without a title but that doesn't seem to be the case now. Anyway, thanks very much for your help.
        Oh, and pardon my ignorance but what is pulling a Nixon?
        Thanks again!

        1 Reply
        1. re: xena

          >>what is pulling a Nixon<<

          "The book dwells on the somewhat odd dining and drinking habits in the White House. It reports that Nixon preferred a 1966 Chateau Margaux wine with dinner. On the yacht Sequoia, he instructed stewards to serve him this $30 wine, wrapped in a towel to obscure the label, while his guests got a $6 vintage."

          zin1953 could also have said pulling a Voltaire, as the French writer would have cheap Beaujolais put in his guests' carafes and expensive Corton in his.

        2. oh, haha! aren't people funny? imagine. missing the point of it all, weren't they?
          thanks for the explanation.

          1. The crab dip, chicken salad, and scallops all say Chardonnay to me...

            As for the chicken wings and spicy meatballs, riesling comes to mind (especially if the wings are fiery), ... in reds you could probably go with shiraz or zinfandel....

            Riesling also matches the aforementioned scallops, crab, etc. If you wanted to go with a "red and white" then I might opt for Riesling and Zinfandel here....

            But Chardonnay is so awesome with the stuff it's good with as listed above.

            Because it's a party and they'll want red and white, go with a Zinfandel as your red, and either a Riesling or Chardonnay as your white). Riesling has the virtue of matching "everything" probably the best, and Chardonnay has the virtue of matching the listed stuff "through the roof", so you won't go too far wrong either way.

            "But wait", when we look at the dessert list we get more direction....

            Given the overwhelming presence of chocolate in your desserts, you could get fancy with a rich sweet muscat... But given what you're trying to achieve with this whole party buffet, IMO Moscato d'Asti would be the way to go...

            Moscato d'Asti has the added virtue of also being great as a "party-starter" bubbly wine and it also matches your main dishes... so you just can't go wrong.

            At the end of the day, serve the following 3 wines:

            Bubbly: Moscato d'Asti

            White: Chardonnay. [note that the Moscato has "riesling-like" qualities so it covers that base]

            Red: zinfadel

            1. Like the half assed old woman (from Lisbon) in the story Candide, I half agree with Voltaire on this one. Beaujolais would go nicely with many of the items listed.

              1. That's a big mishmash of flavors, with lots of sweet and/or spicy notes. To me that screams for a Rhone blend.... could be Cotes du Rhone, could be Goats do Roam, could be a Bonny Doon Red, could be Marietta Cellars Old Vine Red, or Coppola Rosso. None of these costs much more than $12, nor would I spend more than that for "party" wine.

                The other red wine that literally goes with everything, is Beaujolais. I don't mean that grape juice called "Nouveau," I mean the regular stuff. That costs between $8 and $12, and is also great for a party.

                1. A Kabinett level riesling -- should have just enough acidity to cut the richness of the more buttery or fatty items such as the crab dip, bacon wrapped scallops, chicken salad puffs, while at the same time being fairly comfortable against the vegetables and having its sweetness complement the spicy items.

                  With the plenitude of chocolate on the dessert platter, I'd look into a port or something nutty like a sweet sherry; would echo well against the peanut butter.

                  1. xena, not sure what state your in, but check out Serenity Vineyards. they have 3 reds, a merlot, syrah and a pinot noir. the pinot noir is the most expensive at around $21. I think you will do well with any of them. for the price they are delicious.

                    1. With spicy meatballs and chicken wings and salsa you will want to go with some thing on the sweet side perhaps a riesling. Spicy tends to over power wine. Rieslings are relatively inexpensive 7-15 $ for a 750ml. You could also go with a Sauvignon blanc preferably from Marlboro, New Zealand With the $$ saved on the riesling spend a little more on the Savignon Blanc $15- $20. The acidity in the S. Blanc will stand up nicely to the sea food. For reds I like Zinfandell more so than Shiraz, thats just my personal preferance. Dancing Bull is a great California Zin for about $10. I usually pair it with BBQ ribs. good luck

                      1. Here's my pitch...Aglianico is dense ruby red, sometimes with violet hues. Toasted almonds, wild berries, nutmeg, plum, spicy cloves are some of the aromas and flavors that may come to mind when drinking this ancient varietal. The aromas and flavors always depend on the location and the wine producer’s vision. Great with pasta, white and red meat, soups, and antipasti.

                        Some of the producers are: Terredora, Macchialupa, Mustilli, Molettieri, Vino Nobillis, Villa Raiano, Feudi, Mastroberadino

                        1. Thanks again for your help. As things evolved she ended up with all of the foods listed above and much, much more. She served prosecco, cava, pinot noir, merlot, and rose. While all bottles seemed to be enjoyed, the sparkling whites went quickly! Loved reading all of your suggestions, I learn something every time I visit CH. Cheers.