Posts tagged ‘Holiday Parties’

December 11, 2010

Size Matters: How to Make an Impression at Holiday Parties

I’m a huge proponent of going to as many parties as possible during the holiday season, particularly the parties that have full, hosted bars. There are plenty of parties at friends’ homes to attend as well. When you attend a private party, you should always bring a bottle of something to augment the host’s supply, whether they need it or not. It’s a nice gift if it isn’t served.

This holiday season, why not make a positive impression by bringing an over-sized bottle of wine to your next party? The holidays are all about excess and I know you are in the holiday spirit, so go for it.  Stand out by presenting your host with a Magnum, Jeroboam or even a Rehoboam or festive Champagne or red wine. You can’t go wrong.

There are several sizes of wine bottles. There is absolutely no reason to bring an ordinary bottle to a festive event when you can do more. Here’s a handy reference guide for you.  

Volume (liters) Ratio (bottles) Name What it means
0.1875 0.25 Piccolo It means “small” in Italian, and is also known as a quarter bottle, pony, snipe or split. It is the common size served when you order bubbly by the glass. To me this is just a novelty. Why in the hell would anyone embarrass a perfectly good wine by putting it in something so unfulfilling? The only reason to take these to a party is if you have a car-load of ‘em and you’re using them as stocking stuffers.
0.375 0.5 Demi It means “half” in French., so its cleverly known as a half bottle or split. It is a reasonable size if you want a little wine with dinner by yourself. These are completely useless at a party and will no doubt cause you to be seen as “half” a guest.
0.750 1 Standard This is your normal bottle that you see everywhere. Legend has it that the size was based on the amount an average Frenchman could consume at lunch without being too impaired to return to work. If you are absolutely common and ordinary in every way, bring this size bottle. “Oh look honey, Mr. Average is here to bore the hell out of us.”
1.5 2 Magnum The double bottle. These are relatively easy to find and affordable. It’s just big enough to make a good impression when you walk into a party. It says, “I’m not messin around here.”
3.0 4 Jeroboam Oh yeah, the “Double Magnum.” It is named for a Biblical king and has kingly dimensions. If you tote this bad boy into a party, you’ll definitely get invited back next year (unless you sleep with the host’s significant other).
4.5 6 Rehoboam This beast is about as big as you can get and still feasibly carry it to a party and pour from it without making an atrocious mess. We’re talking about an entire ½ case of wine in one bottle here. It’s also named for a Biblical king. Walk into a party with this, and you’ll be king.

There are several other sizes of wine bottles going all the way up to the 40 bottle Melchizedek. You’re not going to find the ultra-large size bottles unless you special order them. These are the bottles you see as ornamentation at fine restaurants and wine shops. Call your favorite wine shop ahead of time to see what they have on hand in a large format bottle. Your friends will love you for it.

I recently did this with a Magnum of Domaine de Mourchon 2006 “Grande Reserve” Cotes du Rhone Villages. The winery is on top of a hill in the village of Provencal Seguret, located in southern Cotes du Rhone. It’s a fairly new winery, founded in 1998 with existing vineyards. They make three lines of wine, and the “Grand Reserve” is a blend of Grenache and Syrah from old vines.

Here is what you can expect.

Look The rich purple of an advent candle burning for Christmas.
Smell The makings a fine fruit cake with nutmeg, toasty cinnamon, fennel, raspberries and plums simmering on the stove.
Taste This wine is a holiday feast of jammy black cherries, currant, white pepper and carpaccio. Its medium body moves from fruit to earth before a mid-length finish of smooth tannins.
Price $38 (or $20 for a standard 750 ml)

This is a respectable wine and downright jolly in a large format bottle. So what’s it going to be? Will you be remembered as the guest that brought the huge bottle of fantastic wine? Or will you be forgotten?

What are you drinking?

December 8, 2010

Hangover Helper: 11 Tips to Survive Holiday Parties

The holiday party season is in full swing, and you know what that means: FREE BOOZE. If you’re like me, you’ll be trying to cram more than one party into every night between now and New Year’s Eve. With all of that boozing comes the inevitable hangover. We’ve all had them and we’ve lived through them – even if we think we won’t in the moment.

There are many ways to avoid hangovers starting with moderation. But if you are a reader of this blog, that is not in your vocabulary. You can also avoid fruit juices and mixers that are high in sugar, drink white wine rather than red, avoid carbonated beverages and drink clear liquor rather than dark. All well and good, but it’s much easier to live la vida loca during the holidays.

Before you seek the soothing comfort of cold bathroom tile this holiday season, prepare yourself with an ounce of prevention and by parking the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. Here are some tips for avoiding hangovers and remedies to get you back in the saddle for the next party.


  1. The helpful reminder: Before you go out, put a chair on top of your bed. Place two aspirin or Ibuprofen tablets on the seat of the chair. When you stumble home ready to fall into bed to sleep the sleep of the anesthetized, you will have to remove the chair first. Ah, those delightful pain relievers are waiting right there to knock the headache back before it starts.
  2. Lead the horse: Put a baby wading pool just inside your front door and fill it with fresh water. When you get home from the parties don’t go any further into your house before you stoop and drink deeply from the trough. Hydration is the key to avoiding a nasty bout of brown bottle flu.
  3. Get a complex: B complex vitamins – folic acid, biotin, niacin, thiamine, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, and cyanocobalamin, aka B12 – taken before you binge can prevent a hangover. Take a B12 vitamin about 4 hours before you go out, another one right before you walk out the door, and then a third before you go to bed. Vitamin B12 naturally boosts the body’s energy, but it takes hydration and rest to work best. Drink plenty of water with each one, get a decent amount of sleep and your chances of dodging the dastardly hangover are greatly improved.
  4. Go Irish: Eat potatoes before you drink. Potatoes contain flavonoids which can help reduce hangover symptoms and keep you from feeling too fragile.
  5. Dilution solution: The most basic recommendation for feeling good in the morning is don’t drink on an empty stomach. Eat a sandwich, eat some pasta, eat some peanuts or almonds. Eat something. Food will help dilute the alcohol in your stomach and slow its absorption. That gives your body more time to metabolize it as it enters the blood stream. Look, you’re going to gain 20 pounds during the holidays anyway, so don’t risk a hangover just to look like Kate Moss.
  6. The triple fister: @candidcourtney recommends a rotation of “Cocktail…Diet Coke…H20…Cocktail…Diet Coke…H20…” The three-pronged approach gives you a buzz, a caffeine boost and keeps you hydrated at the same time. Slipping in two non-alcoholic drinks between each cocktail also moderates your consumption. Just make sure you have ready access to the loo.


  1. Hair of the dog: This is by far the most popular recommendation I’ve heard. It typically works because it is delaying the drop in blood alcohol which is one of the causes of a hangover. Try a Bloody Mary. The vitamins in the tomato juice and celery will help.
  2. Cup of Joe: Do you think Don Draper would try and ride out a hangover without a cup of coffee? Hell no. The theory goes that alcohol dilates the blood vessels causing those pounding headaches. Caffeine constricts the blood vessels to alleviate that pain. The trick here is that caffeine, like alcohol, is a diuretic and can further dehydrate you thereby exacerbating your headache. So drink that coffee, but pair it with some water.
  3. Elevate the electrolytes: Hydration is an absolute must to ease that hangover and you can speed it along by drinking something with sodium, potassium, chloride, and bicarbonate like Gatorade, Powerade and even that Pedialyte stuff that you give to pukey babies.
  4. Drugs! This could be an entire blog post in itself, but I’ll stick to the basics. I swear by Alka-Seltzer. It settles the stomach, kills the headache and if you put a swizzle stick in it, you can imagine you’re right back off the wagon. If you’re an amateur and don’t keep Alka-Seltzer handy, grab a good old fashioned Aspirin or an anti-inflammatory like Ibuprofen. Be careful though, both can further upset your stomach. Avoid Tylenol or its generic equivalent, Acetaminophen. Paired with alcohol it can really tear into that already battered liver. If you’re a Heath Ledger wannabe, rummage through the medicine cabinet to see if you can fish out some Codeine, Vicodin, Percocet or the like. Knock a few of those back and you’ll be feeling something else altogether.
  5. The greasy spoon: Even if eating a big greasy breakfast doesn’t technically cure a hangover, it sure can make you feel a little better. A fat burger covered with cheese, chili and bacon and side of fries is my favorite. If you really want the greasy breakfast trick to work, you have to eat it before you go to bed to slow the absorption of alcohol. Have the cabbie drop you off at the all night diner on the way home. Better yet, find someone sweet to make a late night breakfast for you.

With a little bit of planning and after care, we’ll all make it through the holiday bender season one party at a time. There are tons of ways to prevent and cure hangovers. What are your favorite?  Don’t be a Scrooge and keep them to yourself.

What are you drinking?