Entertaining in the summer can be inexpensive and enjoyable — whether it is in your air-conditioned apartment, on your terrace, in the backyard or in a fancy summer home. And one of the pleasures of entertaining in the summer is entertaining with wine.
In the past few years, Americans have taken wine to their bosoms. This is reflected by the skyrocketing sale of all wines, a trend that shows no signs of declining.
The reason, no doubt, is because entertaining with wine is simple. You don’t have to be an expert; you don’t even have to know one vintage from another. You can get by without worrying about white or red, because Americans don’t really follow that old European counsel: White wine with light meats, red wine with dark meats, white wine chilled, red wine not. Americans drink whatever they like with whatever they enjoy eating, anytime they want to.
Most Americans like their drinks cold; and they drink their wines to suit their taste. White wines do taste better chilled. Red wines should be served at room temperature. But what’s room temperature on the terrace or in your backyard?
So Americans often chill their red ·wines too, if they like them that way. And Americans put ice cubes in their wine — on the rocks — and enjoy it just as much. Ice cubes dilute the wine, of course, but for most people, it doesn’t make that much difference. They enjoy it that way.
How to entertain with wine in a practical way without attempting to show that you’re a wine buff or an expert. Or whatever? Simply serve the wine you like best — with some consideration for the preferences of your guests, of course — and you will have a ball.
You should know some basics, but don’t be afraid to adjust these to your personal tastes. At cocktail time, before dinner, the appetizer wines are: sherries, vermouths, or flavored wines. [The champagne people recommend champagne before, during and after meals.] Accompanying wines: cheeses, nuts, or hors d’oeuvres.
With your meals, generally white wines will do. Chablis, Rhine wines accompany fish and fowl. Red wines: Burgundy, Claret . . . Rosé wine goes with everything.
Dessert or after-dinner wines: Port, Tokay, Sherry, Madeira or Brandy.
For a little fun with wines, you might stage a “tasting.” Nothing complicated. Pick four wines — either red or white — give each guest just an ounce or two to taste. They are tasting, not drinking. Fill the glasses in another room, sometimes bottles, even if “masked” can reveal the wine.
Invite your guests to identify the type, sweetness, dryness, color, fragrance (or nose, which is more technical) grape, country. Offer a bottle of wine as the prize to the “best guesser.”
Forget about fancy glasses. The saucer glass for champagne is out; the big bowls aren’t in favor anymore. Get a regular wine glass, with a stem for easier holding. That’s all you need; perhaps Snifters for Brandy?
So have fun any way you like it. Who knows, maybe you will come up with a new “tradition” in wine drinking?