You have figured out what kind of wine you like to drink. You have figured out the most delicious meal to serve it with, and now you are going to invite your closest friends over to share both. But as you're driving around town and debating whether to fold your cloth serviettes or use your brass napkin rings, one other mammoth consideration pops into your head—how much wine should you serve?
When Math and Wine Collide
There is probably no worse time (or better time, depending on how you look at it) to try to do math than when you're drinking wine. But there is a very simple formula that one longtime industry veteran ascribes to. "I was raised that you never want someone to have an empty glass," says Paula Kornell, the proprietress of Paula Kornell Sparkling Wine.
If you are having a cocktail party and a dinner, you should plan on about half a bottle per person.
Kornell's father, pioneering winemaker Hanns Kornell of Kornell Champagne Cellars, was known for his impromptu dinner parties, with her mother Marilouise doing the cooking. Safe to say Kornell is a de facto expert on how much wine to serve at such a soirée. "Nowadays you have to be really careful that people don't drink too much, but if you are having a cocktail party and a dinner, you should plan on about half a bottle per person."
OK, so let's do the math.
Math Problem #1: You have 10 people coming over for dinner. How many bottles should you have?
Answer: Kornell thinks you should have five or six bottles. "If it's five or six, I would err on the larger number. You never want to be the hostess who runs out of alcohol."
Math Problem #2 (for extra credit, since this one is harder): Why is half a bottle the right amount?
Answer: A typical bottle of wine contains 750mL of enhanced grape juice. When you convert 750mL to fluid ounces, you get exactly 25.3605. A typical can of beer or soda is 12 fluid ounces, or just under half the 25.3605 ounces. So, a half a bottle of wine is roughly a little bit more liquid than one beer or soda.
Obviously, that doesn't sound like a lot, especially, as Kornell says, for a cocktail party followed by dinner. But we must remember two things:
- Some people will drink more, and some people will drink less
- When we say a "glass" of wine, we don't think of it in the same way as a "glass" of water, meaning, we don't fill the wine glass all the way to the top like we do with water
You figure you have a glass when you first get there, and then maybe two to three more during dinner. You want to be safe but not run out.Paula Kornell, Paula Kornell Sparkling Wine
Most glasses of wine are in the 3- to 4-ounce range, so—again, math—you would get about three or four glasses out of half a bottle. Which, according to Kornell, sounds about right. "You figure you have a glass when you first get there, and then maybe two to three more during dinner. You want to be safe but not run out." And, of course, safety is a serious subject.
Nobody wants to drink too much and then drive home, endangering themselves and others. It's responsible beverage service to monitor your guests and ensure they make it to your next dinner party, so always have plenty of water and small pieces of bread or snack foods—sometimes called "bites" in the industry—on hand to absorb some of that enhanced grape juice.