Good friends know that when they come for a visit, they should make themselves at home. They are welcome to help themselves to a drink, or to grab one for someone else. If the chip bowl is empty, I'm happy to refill it if I notice, but if I'm in the other room, the pantry door is open to all. Are you a little chilly? I can lend you a sweater. Just ask. One time, I overheard a dear friend greet someone at my house. She welcomed them and asked, "Would you like a glass of wine? This is Anne's house rosé."
Without my noticing, my home had become known for its house wine. I also realized I had a system for choosing that wine.
First of all, it must have a screw-off top, because there are times when I want just one little glass. Fancy stoppers are no solution, because they get lost, and I hate buying things more than once. A screw-off (and screw-on!) top allows me to leave the bottle on its side in the fridge, with no fear of spillage. Also, I can carry an opened bottle in my pocketbook.
Second, the ideal house wine, in my world, should cost less than $10 a bottle, because I don't want to be chintzy with the refills.
Third, I have to actually like the wine. That one should be obvious, but not everyone likes what I like, so this is a little self serving.
Last, the wine needs to be available somewhere within a five-minute drive from my house. You never know when a party might go longer than you planned, and I love a party that lasts and lasts.
I can hear what some of you are thinking: I am a terrible hostess who serves my guests inferior wine. You are right. A love of entertaining combined with a budget that doesn't cover the fancy stuff requires compromise. Though I have been known to indulge in a pricier bottle for a smaller group, it's great to have a stash on hand for when a party just happens.
My house wines are based on availability. A wine tasting at my favorite local café might lead to the purchase of a case, because a case discount makes for an even better deal. At the moment, my house rosé is La Vielle Ferme, available for around $8 at Whole Foods, even less with the case discount.
My house bubbly has been the same for a number of years, St. Hilaire Brut, but I change that up every now and then.
For a long time, our house white was Acrobat Pinot Gris, but that got more expensive, so I switched to whatever-the-wine-pro-suggests-that's-under-$10-a-bottle-and-has-a-screw-off-top. As for the house red, well ... I'm allergic, so I serve whatever guests have brought and left. (I have pretty great guests, so these wines are usually delightful. Occasionally, if they bring something special, I'll open it with them and sip just a little, because I love the taste.) For larger parties, I have the wine guy choose a red.
Do you have a house wine or do you enjoy a little more variety?