When planning a dinner party, the first thing to ask yourself is, “How many people will there be at the table and do they all like wine?” Not everybody enjoys wine with their dinner, so it’s a good idea to have some sparkling water, fruit juice and soft drinks on hand, just in case.
Assuming everybody likes wine, how many bottles will be needed for a dinner party of six? For planning purposes, one bottle of wine will fill six wine glasses sufficiently, so that everybody gets a decent amount. Since most wine glasses hold 10 to 12 ounces, that means the glasses will be about 2/5ths to a third full, which is about right for a single glass of wine to really enjoy the wine’s bouquet. But there won’t be enough wine for second helpings, so you might want to have two bottles on hand (or serve two different wines side-by-side, which really adds another dimension of interest to your meal!). Two bottles for six people is about right, especially if everybody has a glass of water at their place setting as well, which health conscious people nowadays think is de rigueur for any dinner table setting.
You can stretch out one bottle to eight glasses, but there won’t be much in each glass when you have finished pouring. A regular bottle of wine holds 750 milliliters, which is about 25 ounces. So, eight glasses will only have about three ounces of wine in each, which is not very much - unless you are serving two different wines side-by-side or have an extra bottle of the same wine on hand to take care of refills. If you are not serving two different dinner wines, two bottles for eight almost requires that you have a third (unopened) bottle on hand, just in case.
If you are serving wine before dinner with appetizers and plan on spending some time socializing, you should buy three bottles for six to eight people (but don’t open the third until you need to), because the first wine of the evening usually gets the heaviest demand placed upon it.
In summary then, for a dinner party preceded by a social hour wherein hors d’oeurves are served, you should end up buying a total of five bottles for your dinner party for six and five or six bottles for your dinner party for eight (depending on how many wines will be served for dinner). If you do this, you are not likely to run out of wine, and may even have an unopened bottle left over to enjoy with a future meal.
And, from an alcohol moderation point of view, I have found it a good practice to serve at least one bottle less than the number of people who are being served over the entire evening - Jay Roelof – www.suburbanwines.com