Tag Archives: tips on entertaining

Help! I’m Having a Party – How Much Wine do I Need?

wine-math-made-easy

Do the Wine Math: It’ll save your party every time.

I get asked a lot about how much wine is needed for a party and my answer is always the same: do the Wine Math.

No, it’s not New Math which is very complicated and completely unnecessary. It’s Old Math where we use addition, multiplication and a very small amount of division. All you need are some numbers to start.

Wine math is just that simple. First you have to know how many glasses are in a bottle. Then you need to figure out the kind of party you’re having, how long it will last, the number of people that are coming, and exactly who you’ve invited (meaning what type of wine drinkers they are). Once you figure all of that out, it’s a very quick calculation.

Of course, if you’re having a break-up pity party with just you and a friend then who cares about math at all? Important fact:  two very large mason jars will hold about a bottle of wine.  Simply add your favorite chick flick and you’re good to go!

Let’s get back to the very important wine math. A standard bottle of wine is 750 ml which is approximately 25 ounces.  You will find that the suggested serving of a glass of wine is 5 ounces so that would mean that each bottle would pour about 5 glasses.  However, I don’t think anyone pours exactly 5 ounces of wine – it usually ends up closer to 6 ounces – which means that, on average, a bottle of wine will hold about 4 glasses of wine.  Use that as your ‘rule of thumb’.

So, think about how your guests will drink.  You will pour one glass before dinner, a couple more will be consumed during the meal, and probably one more after dinner.  That means, assuming that there are 4 glasses in a bottle, that you would need about one bottle per guest.  But, as I’ve said above, you also need to consider a couple of other variables before you hit the wine store.

Guest Count – hopefully your friends are the type that will actually RSVP and not just show up unannounced.  Always add two more people to the count because someone will bring a random extra that they ‘forgot’ to tell you about or you have that one friend who never RSVPs and never shows but who will decide to come to your fabulous event.

Here’s where you pull out the calculator for the wine math:

Multiply the number of guests times the number of estimated glasses filled per guest.
THEN divide that number by 4 (approximate glasses per bottle) and that equals the number of bottles needed.

How much wine will they drink? Nobody can perfectly predict this but there are a couple of ‘rules’ that you can always depend on.  If your guests at least like wine they will drink one glass in the first hour but if they enjoy wine or even love it the number will be closer to 2 glasses in that first hour.  For each hour after that add one more glass to the count.  Following this logic – if your party will last about 4 hours most will drink close to 5 glasses of wine. You will need both a red and a white and enough of each in case most of your guests want to drink one or the other.

Now, if you’re like me and you are pouring Champagne, the whole calculation goes out the window because a bottle of bubbles will pour approximately 8 champagne flutes.  Unless, however, you’re at my house then a bottle will only hold 6-7 flutes because I have really large champagne glasses!

See? “Wine math” made easy. Now go and enjoy your party!

Wines in the picture:

Conversation Starters: The wonder of Salt Cellars

blog photo of salt cellars on Fran's table

“Above the Salt” Idea: Entertain guests like a pro with great salt cellars for your table.

Do you know someone who can really throw a fabulous gathering no matter how large or small? I have to say I’ve been lucky enough to know some party planning geniuses and, to be honest, I spend a lot of time paying attention to them – what they do and how they get it done.

What I’m describing here is the subtle art of home entertaining. Creating an intimate setting where the drinks are flowing, the food is excellent, and the music sounds fabulous, but at the very heart of the party is the conversation: electric, happy, and memorable.

THAT’s the key, right there: the trigger for a great conversation. Without it, you could host a party with a five-star magician as the main entertainment, and still watch it flop. I know. I’ve seen it happen. So, what IS the secret? What’s the trick to triggering conversation and keeping everyone talking?

Consider these examples:

  • When friends come to visit a friend of mine’s home for drinks, he pulls out old AOL sign-up CDs from the 90s and uses them as coasters. Boomers laugh. Millennials gape at them as though they’re museum collectibles.
  • Another friend uses “vintage” Melmac cups, saucers, and plates from the 1960s – a very nice retro look that goes with her retro décor. Along with her movie posters (also from the 60s), her home really is like a museum, but you should hear all the conversation!
  • An author I know collects photos from pre-World War II Europe and has framed reprints all around his home. For people who have traveled to Europe – especially Italy and Germany – these are very precious images that never fail to trigger a conversation.

The truly cool thing about this “trick” is that, for it to work, you don’t have to go all out and redecorate your home. Add things that complement your existing décor and personal tastes. But, do your research and be THAT person who knows a bit about whatever you’ve add to make things just a bit more interesting. In my case and for my taste, I like curios that I pick up from estate sales, often for the tabletop or kitchen.

Recently, I rediscovered Salt Cellars, also called ‘salt pigs,’ which were used to hold and dispense salt. They can be either lidded or open and vary significantly in size, shape, and materials – from very simple to incredibly elaborate made out of precious metals and stones.

Salt cellars of various shapes and sizes have been found dating from the time of the Greeks and Romans. During the Middle Ages very elaborate salt cellars were placed at the head of the table as a sign of status and prosperity, so they were often crafted in silver and decorated with sea motifs (remember – it was sea salt that was being put into the salt cellars).

In addition to the large bowl placed at the head of the table, smaller ones would be set around the table for the guests. Social status was measured by where guests were seated relative to the master’s large salt cellar. So, high ranking guests sat ‘above the salt’ and closer to the host while lower ranking ones sat ‘below the salt.’

Some of these master salt cellars were so large and ornate that they were called ‘standing salt’ because they weren’t passed around the table.  The tiny spoons first appeared in the 17th century as the use of these larger salt cellars increased. Common salt shakers didn’t appear until the Victorian era in England but remained unpopular because salt tended to clump up due to moisture in the air.  After anti-caking agents were introduced in 1911, salt shakers became more popular and cellars were eventually demoted off most dinner tables.

Salt cellars are now a collector’s item, but I like to use them around the table with different salts in them.  Sea salts come in many shades and flavors that can really add excitement to your food. Using different salt cellars with different salts is another way to kick-off conversations, and keep the memories flowing no matter how you’ve been “salted.”

Check out my video for more ideas on home entertaining.