a social gathering of invited guests, typically involving eating, drinking and entertainment

Some parties are planned in advance, other times they just happen. Last minute parties are the ones that cement friendships and create memories that last a lifetime. They also tend to be the roughest on the host. The host must summon up sustenance, while wondering how clean the bathroom is. Having a wine pairing with takeout makes your event seem pulled together.

Fried Chicken & Champagne

You arrive at the restaurant with your group for brunch. When the overworked hostess tells you it will be two hours for a table you must scramble for a plan. So you offer up your house for brunch. Dividing and conquering you send one person off to pick up the best fried chicken in town to-go. Sending another to the grocery store to buy a few bottles champagne, you return home. A quick tidy of the living room and the bell rings. Voila- instant party. 

Fried Chicken and Champagne are the best. The crispy, crunchy batter and the bright bubbles are perfection. You saved the day! Make it fancy by snagging two or three different brands of champagne and blind taste the group. See which one folks like best. You can even make this a pot-luck- everyone brings their favorite fried chicken and a bottle to share. 

Pizza & Chianti

Your son invited his new best friend home from school and their parents are coming to pick him up. He is begging for a few more hours with his friend. You want to get to know the parents but, you haven’t been grocery shopping in a week… Delivery pizza is the answer. 

I always keep a bottle of Chianti Riserva in the house. It makes pizza night seem less thrown together. It gives the impression that I planned to have pizza night. If you ask my empty fridge, it would tell you that I didn’t plan. Eating off paper plates in the backyard, with a glass of Sangiovese is casually elegant, not a planning failure. Chianti is the perfect pairing for pizza- but spend the extra $10 bucks and get the nice stuff. I promise you it is worth the money. 

Take Out Chinese & Riesling

In college there were so many study sessions that turned into parties. Start with a group of friends, add food- once someone opens a bottle it is a party! An order of Spicy Orange Chicken and a glass of Ku Fu Girl Riesling made the nights into memories. Also the acid and hint of sweetness in the dry Riesling kept me from crying due to the spicy. This pairing tends to please even those who aren’t into wine. If you want to take it up a notch, buy a dry German Riesling that is a few years old. 

We all know one. Elegantly swirling their glass and ostentatiously serving a wine they ‘picked up last time they were in the valley,’ while shoving your contribution of vodka to the back of the cabinet never to be mentioned again. When out to dinner they harass the wait staff about years, ask for a special deal on  a bottle or simply turn their nose at the list since they simply don’t recognize anything! Drinking anything below 90 points is below them. Amazingly this person annoys you constantly.

Amazingly they drive me bonkers too. And I’m a sommelier.

My husband’s favorite beverage is Bud Light. My mother loves Bota-Box Pinot Grigio. My dad is a Shiner Bock fanatic. Family reunions involve a lot of Jack Daniels, Crown and  whatever wine was on super sale (read as under $6).

Wine is supposed to be enjoyable. It is alcohol which generally accompanies a good time. Good times are for everyone. I am here to make wine accessible and an enjoyable experience.

Frankly it is easier to enjoy some things with a bit of knowledge.

Bring on the questions!

How much did you buy?

No judgement here but the amount you purchase absolutely determines how the wine should be transported. Frankly if you are under four bottles I think you can slip it into your checked baggage without major issue. Wine Skins – are awesome, reusable and easy to use and reasonably priced. Keep in mind every bottle of wine weights about three pounds and that it adds up fast. Weight limits tend to be 50 pounds per bag- going over will result in a fine. If you are heading out on a domestic wine trip- carry a collapsible duffle  in your check bag so you can check either check it  with clothing as padding, or take out some things to carry on to keep your weight down. Due to some of the new crazy rules for carry on bags it may be less expensive or the same price to check multiple bags for your vino.

Once you go over six it tends to make more sense to with a Styrofoam mailer– the expense is present but they are extremely sturdy and tend to be reusable. They can be difficult to find at post offices unless you are in a tourist driven wine region. Amazon does have them for sale if you are looking for them domestically. It will be about a hundred dollars total (box, tax and shipping fees) to get your wine from vacation spot to home. You can also take a foam box as a checked item on your plane. If you do this often- there are bags made especially for the Styrofoam mailers. Personally I find them extremely expensive when you can simply tape the box closed and call it a day.

The wine is subject to TSA check as is all luggage. The airline will not take any responsibility for the wine breakage or leakage. Some airlines have limits of how much per customer domestically, so check with your airline so that you don’t get blind sided by airline regulations.

Always remember check to see if you need to bring wines home. I’m not telling you that the Chardonnay you are having in Sonoma isn’t worth brining home, but I am going to gently remind you that lots of wine are sold in your local market. You can always ask at the winery if they sell them in your state, some things are smaller production and are ‘winery only,’ these wines are what you should buy when you are there. Don’t be tempted by the discount offered to buy things you can get at home- the cost of shipping this wine home will negate that discount.  Pleasedevelop a relationship with your local wine shop, most owners are delighted to order you whatever you desire so that you can purchase it at home. It is not a bother- these folks got into the industry because they enjoy wine- your excitement about a new favorite may lead to it being sold at your favorite shop.  Know the details of the wine- take a picture of the label so you don’t forget any details- vintage or single vineyard can make a huge difference as your new shop owning friend orders it for you. Most wineries will also ship your wine home for you, if you are buying more than three bottles from one property I highly recommend this option- the prices tend to be very far and so simple! Also who doesn’t love having wine show up on their doorstep?

Where are you shipping it to? Please check your state laws for the legality of shipping wine. Don’t lie about what is in your package-  lying to the Postal Service can get you into major trouble.

For International Travelers: Per TSA regulations, if you purchase liquor from a duty-free shop and it’s able to be screened (i.e., not in an opaque, metallic, or ceramic bottle) and is in a secure, tamper-evident bag (called an STEB), you can transport it in your carry-on. I haven’t yet (fingers crossed) had issues with wines not purchased at a duty free shop- but the sealed bag is important- it helps keep the liquid out of your things if the worst happens.

If you bring back more than one liter, customs regulations require you to pay duty tax based on the percent of alcohol (generally $1–2 per liter for wine). So if you and one other person are traveling you can generally get away with three standard size bottles without issue. Because you are sitting at 2 ¼ liters you technically have nothing to declare because you are under the limits. Don’t lie to customs agents if you have more. Sometimes they won’t even make you pay the tax if you are polite and the wine is for personal use. Always be nice to these folks- they can simplify your life so much!

Happy Traveling!