Who’s coming to dinner?

30 September 2012

By John Grant: Director of Wine Escapes

When hosting a Dinner Party, inviting the right mix of characters is very important...
One needs the fun, talkative character to get conversation going (and to ensure no awkward silences). One also needs someone new and fresh, light and easy to talk to, someone to generate interest. Then one needs a brooding, mysterious type, someone who doesn’t say much but has an underlying complexity that takes time to reveal. And finally one needs the star − well groomed, respected and successful − one who boldly holds others’ attention. A leader. The same is true when choosing wine for an evening.

Firstly, one needs the fun, conversation starter. In other words, a “Bubbly”. A glass of bubbly is the perfect way to relax your guests, get them talking and release their inhibitions. One needs something fruity, fresh and dry to cleanse palates and prepare the guests for what’s to come. The Graham Beck Brut and Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel are perfect for this.

Second, one needs the fresh new face with a light and easy character. Here a young, unwooded white like the Ken Forrester Petite Chenin Blanc or Tokara ‘Elgin’ Sauvignon Blanc are lovely. They are fruity and light, with good acidity and with just enough complexity to keep you interested, but leaving you wanting to find out more. These are great to serve with seafood and salad starters.

Thirdly, one needs the subtle, mysterious character. Here a Pinot Noir like those of Vriesenhof, Oak Valley or Bouchard Finlayson are perfect. While being light in colour and body, and shy at first, given enough time they reveal startling complexity and depth that will develop as the evening goes on. They are fantastic with a second course of pâté or duck.

And lastly, the bold, confident, well-groomed character − the leader. Here something like the Rust en Vrede Estate, Meerlust Rubicon or La Motte Millenium are perfect. Well balanced blends with power and depth to stand up to full flavoured steaks, casseroles or roast lamb, and with enough complexity to keep things interesting long into the night.

Oh, and I almost forgot the late-comer. The sweet character that always arrives last but is always the cherry on top of most evenings. Be it a Natural Sweet from Buitenverwachting or a Cape Vintage from Bredells, these are always perfect with dessert or on their own as a stunning ending to an evening.

Have a great time planning your next dinner party and remember to place great importance on the wines you choose for the occasion, they can make it