Unless you are a sommelier, it can be easy to feel nervous about selecting wines for your upcoming event. You don’t want to be embarrassed serving something that tastes like grape juice or vinegar. Although attendees would no doubt savor the Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, a top-rated varietal from Napa Valley, California, it retails for $2,249 per bottle. How can you pick wines that will please your guests without breaking your budget?

Harley Carbery, director of wine at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, recently shared some thoughts with associationsnow.com.  If you don’t feel confident choosing among the thousands of brands available, Carbery recommends asking for help.

“There’s no better resource for selecting wines and pairing them with the right foods than a wine director and catering team,” he says.

Top Wine Picks

Compared to other alcoholic beverages, wine is uniquely suited to serving to a large group. Trendy or traditional, there are plenty of choices, at all price points. According to Carbery, the most popular red wine is cabernet; the most popular white is chardonnay. Malbec, a red varietal that appeared on the scene just 10 years ago, has also quickly become a crowd pleaser.

The last thing a meeting planner wants to be is boring. Carbery says three interesting choices that demonstrate a little pizazz but will still appeal to everyone are an Italian prosecco, a Sonoma chardonnay and a California or Washington state merlot.

He suggests being a little adventurous when it comes to choosing wines. ‘Don’t be afraid to try something new,’” Carbery says, adding,  “There are always opportunities to customize something to your group.”

Wine Buzzwords

Organic, sustainable, vegan and biodynamic are buzzwords often associated with wine today. Carbery points out that for centuries, wine has been organic and vegan. Biodynamic refers to the handling and processing of the fruit, a complex process that even takes moon phases into account.


When deciding which wines to choose for an upcoming event, meeting planners who don’t have an onsite expert to consult with can always visit VinePair.com. This helpful website provides information and reviews of great wines, as well as trending news about beer and spirits.