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Picking out wine for an office party

For months, I’ve  been working on planning a department offsite meeting. Getting people from all over the US and multiple countries into one spot on mutually agreeable dates with a lively and interesting agenda is no easy task. Having conquered schedules and resolved conflicting ideas for the meeting, I’ve recently turned to planning the entertainment.

Team building events are part of the event, and as anyone who has been to a meeting like this can attest, the food and drink can have a huge impact on how much fun is had.

I started to look over the wine list today and have to say I was not overly thrilled with the choices given as catering choices. The markup seems to be around 300% – 500% and the more moderately priced wines are uninspiring to say the least. The hotel where the meeting is being hosted has a restaurant attached and I took a look at that menu to see if I could improve the options.

My budget is around $40 per bottle. The meeting will have US attendees of all ages as well as a smattering of Europeans and Asian colleagues. Some wine lovers/snobs in the crowd but on the whole, average wine consumers. I know I need a Chardonnay, based on my knowledge of preferences within the group. I need at least one red too.

Here are my choices:

White

  • Douglass Hill Chardonnay, California $36 (catering menu, never had it, seems to retail for ~$7 or $8)
  • Raymond Estate Chardonnay, California $39 (catering menu, never had it, when I look on the Raymond Vineyards website, there is no Estate listed so I can’t tell which one this is)
  • Cave du Lugny Les Charmes Chardonnay, Burgundy $43 (restaurant menu, have had it and enjoyed it a lot, retails for ~$12)

Red

  • Douglass Hill Merlot, California $36 (catering menu, never had it, a Bronco wine which retails for ~$7?)
  • Douglass Hill Cabernet Sauvignon, California $36 (catering menu, a Bronco wine which retails for ~$7?)
  • Montes Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Chile $39 (catering menu, not sure if I’ve tried it, retails ~$10)
  • Sterling Merlot, California $41 (catering menu, unclear which one this is)
  • Mirrasou Pinot Noir, California $40 (catering menu, very popular wine which retails for ~$12)
  • Los Vascos Cabernet Sauvignon, Chile $40 (catering menu, retails for ~$12)
  • Bistro Pinot Noir, Bugundy $35 (restaurant menu, unable to find information on this one)

I’d love to pick the Duboeuf Fleurie ($36) or Chapoutier Cote du Rhone ($32) but know that with a such a broad audience, they will be overlooked and this is not a time for wine education. The wines need to be completely approachable and friendly.

Help me out here. Given these choices, what would you pick and why?

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