Help Pick the Beer and Wine

We want to host a casual “open house”, a come and go as you please, informal get-together. But, we’re not the party type. This would be in late June from early afternoon into the evening. We’re thinking of serving just beer and wines. But, as you may guess, I’m no connoisseur of what is good yet moderately priced. Maybe a fruity red wine and a white zinfandel? (FYI: I just recently discovered Moscato wine, but is that pricey?) And, don’t forget the beer! What two domestic beers would you pick? (Keep in mind, I like the light-colored beer vs. the dark beers.)

By “domestic,” I assume you mean made in the USA? About the only American beers I drink are Miller Cold Filtered and Michelob, though I hear Clint Eastwood swears by Coors.

Moscato is not expensive. Barefoot is a decent national brand easily found for under $10 for a 750ml bottle. Chateau St. Michelle would be a little classier and only slightly more expensive. Keep in mind Moscato is a dessert wine. People who actually like wine would like my prefer something a little less sweet like a Riesling.

For red, Apothic, Dornfelder, Shiraz, or Pinot Noir would all be acceptable, inexpensive, mid-sweet choices.

For light beers in June, I’d recommend a wheat ale. For darker, go with a brown ale. I’d recommend going to your local liquor store and asking what local-ish beers are popular and in your price range. What part of the country are you in?

What do you think your friends will like drinking, Jinx? And how many of them do you anticipate will visit? Consult any of a number of party planning guides to figure out just how much booze you’re going to need.

Re: beer, many people will seek out mass-market brands like the Millers and Budweisers of the world, and actively dislike any beer that isn’t in that category. Then there are people for whom the inverse is true. So it depends on what they’ve told you they like to drink.

Me? Planning your party, I’d have a light beer available, as a lot of the first category of people will only drink lite beer. Have a local beer that’s a bit more complicated if you think they’ll like that too. A wheat beer sounds great for a warmer June day.

Wine, there are people who will only drink red. To accommodate them, I’d recommend Beaujolais. Quite dark, but very fruity and easy to drink. Inexpensive too. You should be able find a decent one—Georges Dubouef is available most places—for something like 10-15 a bottle or less. Moscato is also a great idea. You can spend 15 bucks and more a 750ml bottle (DOCG rooster label over the cork and all), but it’s easy to find one a good deal cheaper. Try it with an ice cube in it. Just a fun wine. For drier whites, many people like Pinot Grigio. Santa Margarita is an industry leader, but can be a bit pricey, at around 22 dollars a bottle plus. Really, nice crisp Italian whites are a great thing on a warm day.

You could write a book on Rose wine. Someone did, and it, Rose All Day: The Essential Guide to Your New Favorite Wine, is a great one to read while you decide which one your guests may like. A lot more information in it than you’d think by the presentation. As to the wine, you can get really spendy for Rose—Domaine Ott is excellent, and 65 a bottle plus—but you can find a really tasty one for ten bucks and under. See what your store recommends.

So, to recap: think of what your friends want, get some macrobrews if they’ll only drink those, add a local product, consider Beaujolais in addition to Moscato, and think about adding some Rose wine to the mix.

But it’s really going to depend on what you think your friends will like. I remember eating one night at The Salt Lick, a Central Texas BBQ restaurant that for a long time only allowed BYOB. It was the middle of July, still about 90 or so, and we were happily drinking insanely concentrated Ridge Zinfandels with the BBQ. Needed some ice, and we already had styrofoam wine shippers, but it went great with the 'cue, the wines were magnificent, and everyone had a great time. Even if it was never something I’d recommend for someone to serve guests at a hot outdoor Texas barbecue.

I would pick Blue Moon for something light and mild, and Dundee’s Honey Brown for something a little darker that’s as cheap as Bud, but tastes better. I wouldn’t complain about seeing either in a cooler on a sunny Spring day.

Blue Moon is a decent non-offensive widely available beer. I think that’s a good pick. You could definitely get a cheap moscato that’s drinkable.

Can’t go wrong with Bud Light!

In warm weather, your guests would appreciate chilled white and rose wines over heavier, cellar-temp red Burgundies and Bordeaux.

Beer is anyone’s guess. If you want to keep it light and summery and refreshing, stick with locally brewed Pilseners and lagers, golden and brown ales. I dislike IPAs, but I get laughed at for it.

Stock the beer cooler with a German mega and a decent Mexican and you’ll be good. Nobody will complain if they have to choose between Paulaner and Modelo. The wines should be light and cheap. Buy a couple of decent boxes with a red and a white and forget it.

A variety of Blue Moons…but throw in a couple of Black Butte Porters for the guests.
And another vote for moscato.

Make sure to buy beer and wine that YOU like, because there will likely be some left over. Blue Moon is kind of a safe choice, but some light/lite beer drinkers won’t like it, and neither will drinkers of more flavorful stuff. When stocking for an event, I usually get Miller Lite, a variety pack case of Sam Adams and Yuengling. Those choices seem to satisfy everyone, and my wife and I don’t mind drinking the leftovers.

As for wine, Barefoot is a good inexpensive brand. There are also some “premium” boxed wines that are pretty good. Being boxed, no air gets in and they will last awhile if not finished.

At our wedding, we found that we couldn’t predict at all what people were going to drink- they guzzled some of the cheap stuff and some of the expensive stuff equally.

I think I’d probably get some kind of mass-market beer. If you’re on a budget, look at something like Budweiser/Coors Banquet/Miller Genuine Draft, and if you’re not, look at at an imported lager, probably Mexican, Dutch or German. I’d also consider getting something from a local brewery as an alternative- probably a pale ale or lager would be a good choice.

For wine, I’d stick with uninspired, but inoffensive. That means Pinot Grigio for a white wine, or maybe Sauvignon Blanc, and probably Merlot or a blend for the red. Rose is good too, but don’t get white zinfandel. That stuff is too sweet. Look at good Spanish roses (rosados)- all the ones I’ve had have been decent, unlike the French or American ones. IIRC, the Marques de Caceres rose was decent and inexpensive.

Don’t get stuff that’s particularly intense or particularly bland - your goal ought to be that few people are exactly in their preferred zone, but nobody’s too far away either.

If you’re looking for something for people that don’t like wine-y wine or beer:

Personally I hate wine, but I have discovered I like vinho verde if it’s what there is to drink. Other people I’ve spoken to who dislike wine also seem to like vinho verde. It’s the perfume-y flavor of other wines that I hate, and vinho verde doesn’t have that.

Is this open house kind of thing a housewarming? A celebration of some sort? I like to pop some bubbly for celebration type events. Most people don’t drink it super often because you can’t really save the rest of the bottle for later if you only want a glass or two. A mimosa bar is fun and refreshing. Get a dry, sweet, and rose sparkling wine. Serve with orange juice, pineapple juice, grapefruit juice, and maybe something fun like peach or guava. People can mix and match and have a refreshing good time.

Throw in a few hard ciders of various flavor.

Hell, if you’re serving all that stuff, put out a few jugs of good rum. It’ll make for a more interesting party, and possibly an orgy.

Just checking back. Lots of good thoughts here. Someone asked where we’re located. We’re in the Mid-Atlantic region of the US. (It figures the wines we love best are not the ones wine lovers prefer.) One last question, maybe I should have started by asking what would you budget for 50 guests? …without breaking the bank, of course.

He sang a song about it with Ray Charles, but it was for a movie soundtrack.

He drank Olympia in about half a dozen of his flicks.