Affordable wines for anniversary party
May 17, 2018 7:41 AM   Subscribe

My parents are celebrating their 50th anniversary at a place where we bring our own alcohol. There will be a bartender on the premises to open and pour. My family doesn't drink all that much, and when we do, it's beer. I'm looking for affordable red and white wines for 50-60 people.

The banquet hall told us that 1-2 cases of wine should be enough for the 4-hour party. Dinner is a choice of turkey or ham. The bar is beer and wine only, but there are soft drinks/iced tea too. What are some good wines that will appeal to a wide variety of people -- like pinot grigio seems popular now? I'm looking for specific names/brands of wine. Is $10/bottle a decent price? That way, the wine budget can be under $250. We are planning a toast with non-champagne sparkling wine, but I don't really expect people to drink that with a meal. The party isn't until October, if seasonality affects your recommendation.

And, what's a good place to buy wines by the case? I'm in Pennsylvania where most alcohol sales are in state liquor stores. There are some stores allowed to sell wine and beer, but I don't know that I can get wine at a Costco or Trader Joe's.
posted by gladly to Food & Drink (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Honestly, there are SO many choices and your parameters are very reasonable. Your best bet will be to find a local wine shop that you like and where the people are happy to chat with you. They will recommend something awesome at your price range and may even have in-store deals for buying cases. Additionally, they might have sales where a bottle normally $17 is on sale for $10 or something. Generally, with that price range, you can go a little cheaper for the white and spend a little more for the red. Also, they will sometimes offer to buy back any unopened bottles if you don't use them for the party. You could even go when they are doing a tasting if you want to sample some things.
posted by LKWorking at 7:47 AM on May 17, 2018 [8 favorites]

Until very recently I worked for a company who frequently donates wine for charity events and I can tell you that people are used to drinking pretty cheap wine at this sort of thing. If you shoot for around $12 a bottle that's better than what most parties & events will have. In general, especially since it's summertime, more people will want white than red, too, so maybe do 2/3rds white (chardonnay is still most popular) and 1/3rd red (probably pinot noir).

On preview, LKWorking's suggestion to talk to a local wine shop is a good one. They know their stuff and if you give them a price range they can direct you to something they have on sale that fits your parameters.
posted by something something at 7:56 AM on May 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

I've done this a few times with independent wine shops and most of them will give you 6 bottles of a lighter red, 6 of a heavier red, 6 sweeter white and 6 tartier whites as your two cases so you can appeal to an even broader set of tastes. They're used to this question with a targeted price point so I'd just walk in there and let them guide you.
posted by notorious medium at 8:16 AM on May 17, 2018 [6 favorites]

Since you appear to be in the Philly area, I’ll suggest Moore Brothers. They’re across the river in NJ, but they’re incredibly helpful and won’t let you leave without good wine.
posted by sciencegeek at 8:24 AM on May 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

You might consider boxed wine. Black Box makes good stuff that easily holds its own with any $10-12 bottle. For a large party I always get a box of their Pinot Grigio and a box of their Pinot Noir. A box is the equivalent to 4 bottles and runs between $16-$20, so you'd be looking at $60 per 'case' of each.

If you can get to a Total Wine across one of the state borders, they're great. They offer good discounts if you buy 6 or more bottles. They sell a really good Prosecco, Tesoro Della Regina, for $16 a bottle that has been our go-to sparkler for our last few celebrations .
posted by IanMorr at 8:48 AM on May 17, 2018 [3 favorites]

La Vielle Ferme is another box option ( that also comes in bottles) that's a good table wine. Here in Oregon it's ~$22/3L box and ~$10/750 mL bottle. If you want to be sneaky, you could simply refill the bottles out of the box under the bar.
posted by Dr. Twist at 8:56 AM on May 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

If you have a Trader Joes near you or can get it another way, the answer to your wine question is Grifone, any variety.

The labels (and therefore, the bottles) are super classy looking, and the wine drinks like a $20 to $25 bottle, depending on variety. In fact, they are $3.99 at Trader Joes.
posted by jbenben at 9:16 AM on May 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

Trader Joe's! I would get a case of Chardonnay and a case of Pinot Noir. Any of their $3.99-$5.99 labels are good; if the bottles will be visible pick the one with the nicest label. If the bottles won't be visible, I like Green Fin pretty well and it's only $3.99 a bottle.

Alternatively, Grocery Outlet often has $15 and up bottles for $5-$10, but you are not guaranteed a particular label.
posted by assenav at 9:41 AM on May 17, 2018

My favorite wines are under $5 at Aldi or Trader Joes. I'm serious - give them a chance!
posted by bbqturtle at 9:47 AM on May 17, 2018

Unfortunately, TJs doesn't sell wine in its PA stores, thanks to state liquor laws. Most east coast states are the same, so many TJs within reasonable driving distance also won't have wine sections. If you're not too far from Ohio and you feel like a road trip, though, those locations would work, and you really can get great deals, and usually also great recommendations from the staff. (If you do go the TJs route, please avoid the Two-Buck-Chuck.)

For non-champagne sparkling wine, prosecco is a great choice and you can generally find really nice ones for $12/bottle or less.
posted by halation at 10:45 AM on May 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

Does Whole Foods in PA sell wine? Their equivalent of Two Buck Chuck wasn't bad.

If you want to have a Reisling in the mix and can find it in PA, the Dr. Loosen is ~$12 and punches well above its price point.

What are some good wines that will appeal to a wide variety of people

If it's still warm by then, I'd definitely recommend a sweet or semi-sweet Rose that's been chilled. The afore mentioned Reisling is also good chilled in warm conditions.

If you want two basic reds and two basic whites, a Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc and a Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon cover the bases nicely. If the family really isn't all that into wine and drinking in general, you're probably fine with a red blend and white blend.
posted by Candleman at 11:04 AM on May 17, 2018

Can you get to Delaware? Not sure if you can resonanably get there and my wine suggestions change relatively to that. We shop at Delaware Total Wine for parties like this. If you can get to DE, I can give you one set of suggestions; if not I can give you a “find in PA stores” list.
posted by kellygrape at 12:55 PM on May 17, 2018

If you're near a Wegmans that sells liquor, they have a bunch of $6.00 bottles that are my to-gos on the regular. I would get a Pinot Grigio or a Sauvingnon Blanc, and a Pinot Noir. Those are middle-of-the-road in terms of taste - not too dry, not too sweet.
posted by lyssabee at 1:18 PM on May 17, 2018

The PA state liquor stores (Fine Wine & Good Spirits) have a 19 Crimes sale right now: buy 6 (so like a half-case) and get $12 off. They are usually ~$10/bottle and decent, so with the sale you'd get down to $8/bottle. Dark Horse is another good inoffensive wine label that usually clocks in at under $10/bottle. You can probably also get a case discount at a non-PA store like Total Wine.

Lighter reds (pinot noir, grenache) and most whites (chenin blanc, moscato) would go well with turkey/ham. For specific recommendations, I use Vivino.
posted by basalganglia at 3:01 PM on May 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

I can get to Delaware's Total Wine in Claymont, and that seems like our best bet for stocking up.
posted by gladly at 6:36 PM on May 17, 2018

Casal Garcia vinho verde is a GREAT cheapo wine! I've seen it as low as $4.99, and as high as $10. It's an easy-drinkin', crisp, fun vinho verde, which is naturally juuuust a little effervescent so it feels festive, too. It's a perfect hot weather wine, and an unbeatable value. I would get this and a chard to cover your whites. A pinot noir will round out your selection. With warmer weather, you're gonna get more white drinkers than red.
posted by missmary6 at 4:23 PM on May 18, 2018

Bah! I just remembered you said October. Maybe a zinfandel, too, to make the reds a little heartier. At the bare bones, I think a chardonnay and a pinot noir would be most popular. (I still stand by that vinho verde recommendation though!)
posted by missmary6 at 4:26 PM on May 18, 2018

Final resolution: Total Wine was a great place to purchase. I ended up getting a case of red (Pinot Noir) and a case of white (Chardonnay). With all of Total Wine's discounts, my original total was $290 (that included some fizzy stuff for the toast too). I returned a massive amount after the party, $171 credit back on my card! Thank you so much for your help! Being able to return unopened bottles was fantastic.
posted by gladly at 8:11 AM on November 5, 2018 [3 favorites]

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