To help you host a fabulous dinner party, Inspirations & Celebrations’ Entertaining Contributor, Fran Berger (the entertaining expert and creator of Sophisticated Living with Fran Berger), shares the big reasons why Magnums are a must for entertaining.
Wine and dinner parties – a perfect combination – not only to greet guests as they arrive but also to enjoy with dinner. No matter what menu you have planned for the evening from just cheese and hors d’oeuvres for a couple of hours to steamed lobster and grilled corn served al fresco in the back yard to a formal plated dinner in the dining room, serving wine always adds to the enjoyment of the evening.
But, when you have to continually jump up to open a new bottle (a regular bottle only holds 4-5 glasses of wine) you miss out on some of the conversation. And, if you’re the one telling the story the whole evening stops as you replace the wine.
What are Magnums?
Here’s the answer to that dilemma: use magnums of wine for your party.
A standard bottle of wine holds 750 ML (that’s why in the restaurant business they are always referred to as “750s” – clever, right?). But, a magnum holds 1.5 L or twice as much which means that you won’t be interrupting dinner as often to open a new bottle. The larger format isn’t so big that you won’t be able to pick it up and refill your guest’s glasses but it is large enough so that there are some definite benefits besides double the wine.
Winemakers like larger format bottles for a couple of reasons – the wine doesn’t age as quickly due to the ratio of air surface (there’s that little bit of air space between the cork and the wine) to volume of wine in the bottle, the bottle glass is thicker than a regular bottle so there is less light reaching the wine and, because it’s bigger, the wine isn’t jostled as much during moving (wine doesn’t love to be moved!).
Plus, there’s a bonus. I always use magnum bottles as part of my centerpieces. They aren’t so big that they block a guest’s view across the table but, because of their size, they add height to the tablescape. If you place lower flower arrangements in the center of the table (or down the length of the table) and intersperse lit votive candles, when you add the large bottles to the mix you create interest. Guests can refill their glasses, ask for the bottles to be passed and have time to discuss the wine being poured.
Almost all wine can be found in larger formats – no matter what country the wine is from – whether it’s an Italian sparkling (perhaps a Franciacorta D.O.C.G from the Lombardy region or a dry Lambrusco like Ca’ De’ Medici from Emila-Romagna) that would be great with cheese and charcuterie or a wonderful Blanc de Blanc or Brut Rosé champagne from Ruinart or crisp Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley where it takes on a minerally quality for that steamed lobster and grilled corn.
Magnum bottles will generally cost about double the price of a 750 ML bottle. But be warned, they may be a bit more. Winemakers don’t bottle as many magnums as they do regular size bottles (corks, labels and of course the bottle are a custom size) so they are sometimes sold at a slight premium. However, the impression they leave with your guests is more than worth the bit more you may pay.
So, set the tone for your party by serving from magnum bottles. When you see magnums on the table there’s a certain spirit of generosity that is felt by everyone – it feels like a celebration!
For more entertaining tips and ideas, check out the Entertaining section on Inspirations & Celebrations.
Entertaining Contributor: Fran Berger
Fran Berger is an entrepreneur, sophisticated home entertaining and lifestyle expert, and media personality. With her twenty-plus years of experience as a popular restaurateur entertaining celebrities, family and friends in Beverly Hills as the original founder of The Farm of Beverly Hills, and with her own personal life stories as a guide, she is passionate about sharing her unique food memories stored in her heart with others around the world; examples that epitomize the magnificently intimate as well as communal experience that enjoying food around the table can be. As an entertaining contributor to Inspirations & Celebrations, Fran shares her expertise about entertaining, party planning, and food & wine.
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