Sandra Guibord is an internationally respected wine expert and managing lifestyle editor of Venü Magazine. She is also the CEO and founder of Sandra’s Wine Life (sandraswinelife.com), a brand built from her decades of wine experience and geared toward bridging the gap between wine and the drinker. A resident of Fairfield County and expert entertainer, Guibord recently sat down with us to share some of her best tips for building your drink menu this party season.
What’s the best Champagne to bring to a guest’s house for the holidays?
Everyone loves to see that beautiful, golden box of Veuve Clicquot when someone walks through the doors, and you can’t go wrong with that. However, knowledgeable Champagne drinkers tend to focus more on “Grower Champagnes,” which are Champagnes produced by the actual estate. Some of these growers/producers are sustainably farmed and elegantly crafted and often come with a lower price tag — which by no means reflects the elegance and/or quality of the product.
Are there types of Champagne that are especially suited to different occasions (e.g., cocktail parties, sit-down dinners)?
When serving Champagne as an aperitif, along with hors d’oeuvres, you want a brut to accompany the light bites. If instead you’re serving Champagne as a celebration, along with a sweet dessert, you’ll want the style to be a demi-sec that will complement the sweetness of the dessert. It’s a mistake often made at weddings when people serve too brut of a Champagne with their wedding cakes.
What are your best tips for entertaining when it comes to wine and Champagne?
It’s not necessary to serve Champagne in flutes. You can use the same glass that you serve white wine in. But, be certain to give plenty of time for your Champagne/wine to chill; an ice bath with salt will speed up the process if you’re running behind schedule.
What is the best gift you’ve received as a party hostess?
It would be a little box of decorative dishes that are perfect for finger foods and cocktail hour. I’ve used this set of cute plates many times over 15 years; it’s perfect to have when hosting yet not necessarily something you’d buy for yourself. Mine happened to have wine bottles on each plate, but any design is awesome.
Related: 11 Grand Holiday Gift Baskets for the Westchester Foodie in Your Life