Wines for different people

Choosing wine, like planning a menu, is a question of psychology. Just as you wouldn’t serve a Thai green curry to your elderly aunt, you’d be unlikely to pour her a glass of Moroccan or Lebanese red.

The key to selecting wine for different people is to understand the tone of the occasion. Also, make sure you have plenty of wine in stock and simply relax and enjoy!

It’s not difficult. It just needs a bit of forethought. If you’re in doubt and it’s an important occasion try the wine first — just as you’d try out a recipe you were doing for the first time. And always have a bottle in reserve in case you find the wine is corked.

Here are some of the different types of guest you might have to deal with:

Wine experts

Genuine wine experts are easier to please than you’d imagine — so long as you don’t make the mistake of buying the one wine they know a lot about (usually Bordeaux or burgundy). What these people tend to enjoy are wines that are undervalued and unfashionable such as German and Alsace Riesling and all kinds of dessert wine. But don’t serve a wine if you don’t enjoy it too.


With foodies it’s how the wine goes with the meal that counts, so play to your culinary strengths. If you enjoy cooking Italian food learn about Italian wine, if you’re good at curries, find out which wines go best with your favorite recipes. If desserts are your forte serve a sweet wine, such as a fine Tokaj.

Wine novices

People who don’t know a lot about wine are often nervous about betraying their ignorance. Make life easy for them by serving straightforward wines you know they’re likely to enjoy, such as unoaked Chardonnay, Malbec, or Merlot. This is not the time to reveal your lifelong love affair with mature Austrian Riesling.

Wine snobs

The most tiresome people to deal with are those who are excessively impressed by names and labels (unlike the wine expert, these wine snobs will regard any wine they haven’t tasted before with deep suspicion). The temptation is to make them look foolish by decanting a Hungarian Pinot Noir and telling them it’s a Nuits-St-Georges.

On the other hand, if it’s the boss and you’re working on a promotion, that might not be too clever. Well-known wines such as Chablis and Châteauneuf-du-Pape always go down well with the label-conscious and are generally reliable.

Adventurous drinkers

Some friends just love to try anything that’s different, like Peruvian goat stew. There are plenty of quirky oddball wines to match. Good hunting grounds are Portugal and southern Italy and wines from eccentric small producers (which you’re more likely to find in an independent wine merchant). Serve several different bottles so your friends can mix and match.

Wine-loving countries

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