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Dec 18, 2007 04:00 PM

Inexpensive wine for large party.

I'm hosting a party on Sunday evening for 25 - 30 people. I'd like to buy larger bottles (1.5 liters) since most folks will be grazing on many different sorts of food and won't be matching or really noticing a wine that's high quality. But at at the same time, I don't want cheap stuff that will give everyone a headache. I wonder if there's a wine that can be purchased in quantity that is of decent quality? I live in Pa., and our local Trader Joe's does not sell wine. All I have is PLCB, but I do have a high end store near me.

Many thanks!

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  1. Another chowhound just asked for advice on Champagne from the PLCB wine selections and offered the link. I just went to the database...and you can search by price, type of wine, and all sorts of other variables...

    ...but that requires knowing more about your needs. Price range? Bubbly? White? Red?
    Some of each, what?

    9 Replies
    1. re: maria lorraine

      A mix of red and white, as there will be both seafood and beef served, although I'd probably heavy up on white. No sparkling wine.

      1. re: smr33

        Price per 750 ml? What's your food?

        1. re: maria lorraine

          We'll be serving primarily seafood appetizers (smoked salmon, crab, shrimp) with a dinner of tenderloin and appropriate sides. My guess is that folks will drink white with the pre-dinner food and switch to red with dinner. The price isn't as much a concern, but given the crowd I don't necessarily want to spend more than $10 - 15 per bottle (750 ml) which is why I wondered if quality wine can be purchased in 1.5L bottles. And, frankly, I don't want to open a whole bunch of smaller bottles as I'm dealing with the food.

          1. re: smr33

            I'll check the list and report back. By the way, is a sparking wine completely out?
            It is the holidays and your seafood appetizers will go very well with it. Will also recommend a white, though. And, you limit yourself greatly when you only want magnums, because many very good wines within your budget are never made into magnums. Perhaps delegate the opening of bottles to a willing friend?

              1. re: maria lorraine

                I'm with Maria here. Too many poor wines are bottled in magnums, then there exists a ton of good, value-priced wines, that are most likely to be in .75ltr., then higher-end wines in magnum - strange, but true. Also, with the latter, one is likely to spend more on a 1.5ltr., than on two .75's, because of the "collectibility," and the cost on the bottling line.

                Wish that I had a few recs. on the cheaper big bottles, but do not have much experience in good ones.


                1. re: Bill Hunt

                  Here are my favorite whites from the PLCB list:

                  Please note that I normally don't recommend American chardonnay because I think many palates have tired of it, and my preference is to serve a wine that awakens the palate and is lovely and refreshing. For seafood, I have a preference for round wines with some lively acidity, and sometimes with citrus or tropical fruit notes. And, very little oak. Listed in descending order of preference, favorites on top.

                  018160 SOKOL BLOSSER EVOLUTION NV -- absolutely fantastic. This is a blend of pinot gris, muller-thurgau, semillon and six other white grapes. It’s light, very refreshing, with flavors of peach, spice and vanilla, and WONDERFUL with seafood. $14.49 750ML

                  056250 COPAIN SAISONS DES VIN VIOGNIER 06 Had to put this in even though it’s a dollar more. It’s wonderful. $15.99 750 ML

                  068390 PINE RIDGE CHENIN/VIOGNIER-2003 $12.99 750 ML
                  Always very solid and pleasing.

                  009966 KING ESTATE PINOT GRIS $12.99 750 ML
                  Always one of the best buys in Pinot Gris, with great flavor, lovely with seafood.

                  Wines for beef tenderloin:
                  Cabernets eliminated, except for one, because of expense. I went with one stunning Languedoc red, some beautiful well-priced Zinfandels, and some well-made, well-priced Rhones with pretty fruit from makers/negociants with a solid reputation. In order of preference, favorites first.

                  019240 DOM.LA GARRIGUE DE LA BRONZINELLE 04 $14.99 750ML
                  (Chateau Saint Martin de la Garrigue Bronzinelle Coteaux du Languedoc)
                  This wine is so beautiful. I remember how struck I was when I first tasted it, at its fruit and how it seemed to have everything. What a good buy.

                  013900 LAKE SONOMA SAINI FARM OLD VINE ZINFANDEL 04 $14.99 750ML --- A powerful Zin with such beautiful cherry fruit. The standout of one year’s Dry Creek Zin tasting. Now the vineyard is owned by Sbragia, so this wine is no longer made. But I'm sure Sbragia will do a good job with the vineyard.

                  056650 VILLA MT EDEN ZINFANDEL OLD VINES $12.79 750 ML
                  This is always a good product. No vintage date listed, however. This is one of the frustrating things about the PLCB list – it doesn’t list vintages, as a recent question on Champagne revealed.

                  007559 HAWK CREST CABERNET SAUVIGNON VI $13.99
                  Hawk Crest is the second label for the extremely well-respected Stags’ Leap Wine Cellars. Always a good buy.

                  006270 P JABOULET PARALLEL 45 RHONE $10.99 750ML
                  Solid. Wonderful Rhone, always a pleaser, and guess what – it comes in a magnum!
                  005517 P JABOULET PARALLEL 45 RHONE $21.99 1.50L -- magnum

                  008399 RENWOOD SIERRA SERIES CAL. ZINFANDEL VI $9.99
                  750 ML --- Renwood’s been doing a good job with Zins in Amador County.

                  007822 E. GUIGAL GIGONDAS RED WINE VI $14.99 750 ML
                  Don’t know what year this is, but it’s usually a very good buy.

                  $10.49 750 ML --- This is supposed to be spelled “Les Jalets.” No vintage date listed, but this should be 2003 or earlier to be drinker-friendly.

                  All of these wines are lovely, and you really can't go wrong with any of them.
                  I hope you have a special party, and though I know you will be busy with the food, as you mentioned, and possibly too busy to open the wine,
                  please remember my hard-and-fast rule:
                  A hostess must always enjoy her own party.

                  1. re: maria lorraine

                    Do they all have screw caps? :) Just kidding.
                    It has been my experience, as expressed above, that most wines that are really worth drinking are not bottled in sizes above 750 ML, so I think I'm going to take your list/advice in hand when I hit PLCB today. I've had many of the wines you've suggested, but the always-tricky part of living in PA. is inventory. Not every store stocks the same wine consistently. For example, I had the Pine Ridge you mentioned early in the fall and love it, and now I can't find it in any of my local PLCB stores. If one plans ahead (which clearly I haven't) you can request it be shipped from one store to another if it's available anywhere in the state. Anyway, I thank you very sincerely for your help. And I think I may teach my 16 year old daughter how to use a corkscrew this weekend.

                    1. re: smr33

                      Just as a shortcut, you can go to the PLCB website, and then go to the search window. There, you enter the code (number) and then the database will ask you for your zip code or city, and will tell you where the wine is located. Maybe that will help.

      2. A very inexpensive white that I really enjoy is Two Oceans. It's a sauvignon blanc from South Africa and runs about $18/1.5L.

        1. We had a party recently and the 1.5L 2005 Mouton Cadet Bordeaux went over well, both red and white. ($16 a bottle here)