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Organize Your Wine for Holiday Festivities

This is the time of year when a tug-o-war occurs between “not enough time” and “wanting everything to be perfect”.

The calendar for the next five weeks is filling quickly and happily! Bill and I are hosting two gatherings around our table: a post-Thanksgiving lunch for family visiting from Missouri, and a traditional Christmas Dinner for 24 longtime friends.  Then there will be friends dropping by (read: “Surprise!”), dinners at friends’ homes and nights out at favorite restaurants. It’s a busy and fun time of year!  

Scott Hafner organizes his wine cellar for the holidays.  Hafner Vineyard double magnum of Cabernet. A fun bottle to share with friends.

All are made more special with a thoughtful selection of wine. With a little pre-planning, it can be quite easy. 

I find mid-November is the perfect time to quickly organize the wine cellar for the coming festivities and gift-giving. And a few minutes can make one The Most Thoughtful Host and The Best Gift Giver ever.

Here is how I organize my cellar at this time of year: I look for wines that I have aged, waiting for a celebratory time to share them. Some have been in my cellar for a decade or more. Many are wines that will be in their prime. (I also keep an eye out for those bottles that might not age well until December 2105).

Scott Hafner shares a selection of his wines for the Holiday Season.

I pull these wines and I divide them into two groups:

  • “Serve, savor and enjoy with friends” and
  • “Really meaningful gifts”.

I think about the parties we’ll be hosting, choosing wines that will complement the menu and honor guests. This is the perfect time to share an unusual vintage or varietal and our friends always concur! Once I’ve set aside wines to serve, I then make my Shopping List of what is still needed.

At our house, we generally have red, white and Rosé wines available at each gathering. As everyone’s knowledge of wine has expanded, we find guests are confident enough to drink what they like...the old “rules” have been replaced by personal taste. We applaud that!

This is also the time that I look for a few special bottles to give as gifts. Two notes about gift giving:

  • I make sure not to presume on hosts when we take a bottle of wine to dinner....meaning they should be comfortable adding the gift to their cellar to enjoy at another time. I only assume that my gift will be served immediately if I have called ahead to see if the bottle fits in the host’s plans and menu.
  • A tradition I learned from Dad: when you receive a special bottle from friends, write on the label who gave it to you and when. Put it in your cellar and wait for the right occasion. When you serve it, you’ll enjoy not just the wine but the memory of your friends’ thoughtful generosity. And perhaps you’ll toast them!

When Dick Hafner receives a gift of wine, he always writes who it is from on the label. A fun reminder!

This is my “plan” for getting my cellar ready for the Holidays. What’s yours? We’d love to hear!