Is your mini bar in a muddle? Or does it lack style, flair, or aesthetic appeal? Time to fix that.
If you have a few choice bottles of wine, you can turn your bar into a great-looking conversation starter that’s so much more than a functional serving space.
As far as wine is concerned, the trick is knowing what to purchase and what to display. Here are a few suggestions for what you should have on the show to make your minibar remarkable.
Wines For All Occasions
When stocking up on wine you should make sure that you’ve got all your bases covered. You’ll need something for everyday quaffing, dinner parties, celebrations and even cooking. You should also purchase a few bottles that have the wow factor, whether it’s because of historical or other value. Let’s take a closer look.
Red And White For Everyday Drinking
If you enjoy a daily glass of wine when you get home from work or with dinner, you’ll want a few bottles of versatile white and red wines on your shelves. These bottles should be affordable, drinkable, and able to pair with various foods. They’re also great to have on hand for unexpected visits from friends.
Consider choosing a dry Riesling as an everyday white. As far as everyday reds go, younger wines aged in used oak, such as Rioja Crianzas, are a good choice, as are blends from the Côtes du Ventoux and the Côtes du Rhône.
Quaffing wines, especially those from other countries are always a good choice. By showing them off you can put them in easy reach for your daily tipple, and they help create a cosmopolitan atmosphere that isn’t too stuffy.
Red And White For Dinner Parties
Your minibar should include red and white wines that can truly live up to the occasion when you host a dinner party or go to a BYOB dinner. A fancy dinner is a step up from everyday fare, and that should be reflected in your choice of wine. That said, the reds and whites you choose still should be versatile enough to pair with various dishes.
As far as reds go, cabernet sauvignon and merlot are good options. Don’t feel you need to be bound to French wineries, as vineyards in places such as Germany and Chile can produce outstanding wines too.
Another option is a top-notch South African pinotage, which can pair with anything from osso buco to oysters. Alternatively, get your hands on a few bottles of intensely flavored Amarone. When it comes to a versatile white for dinner parties, a Loire Valley Savennières or a good South African Chenin Blanc is the way to go.
Champagne And Sparkling Wines
No mini bar wine display is complete without a bottle or two of champagne for big celebrations and/or sparkling wine for those days when only a bit of bubbly will do.
Considering the price, Moët & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, G.H. Mumm, Armand de Brignac, and other top champagnes are best kept for engagement, graduation, anniversary, and other special occasions. That said, any of those or other excellent champagne brands will make an impressive addition to your home bar.
For sparkling wines, look for some of the celebrated Californian brands. If you prefer European wines, opt for a Crémant from France’s Burgundy, Jura, or Loire regions, or for a Spanish Cava.
A Dry Rosé And A Dry Aperitif
Rosé tends to have a bad reputation among many wine lovers, and that’s usually because their experience of it has been limited to sickly sweet wines. Show that you know better by including a dry rosé in your collection. A good blanc de noir can be an incredible alternative to rosé.
Serving an aperitif can be a wonderful start to a dinner party or evening event. Include a good aperitif wine such as a dry Sekt from Germany to ensure you have the perfect drink in easy reach.
A couple of natural and fortified sweet wines will complete the basics of your mini bar display. Naturally sweet wines such as those produced in the Barsac and Sauternes regions of Bordeaux, France, are fantastic accompaniments to spicy foods.
Sweet fortified wines, such as a French Muscat, a Spanish sherry, or a Portuguese port are a lovely way to round off a meal. You can serve them with a sweet dessert or with after-dinner cheeses if you’re keen on the perfect pairing.
If you are looking for more than covering the basics, you can look into adding a few collectible wines to your minibar. Unless you have built up a relationship with particular estates over several years, you probably won’t have much luck if you try to purchase their most desirable wines directly. A better bet is to go via a wine merchant or to bid on auctions.
A few examples of collectible wines include:
- Château Lafite Rothschild Pauillac Premier Cru Classé 1959
- Château Haut-Brion Pessac-Léognan Premiere Cru Classé, 1982
- Tenuta San Guido, Sassicaia, Bolgheri, Tuscany, Italy, 1985
Wines Mentioned In Movies
Wines made famous because they were mentioned in movies can be an interesting addition to your display too. Plus, they are great talking points. Be prepared to pay, however. Most of them are sought after by wine collectors as well as by film buffs.
A few to look out for include:
- 1926 Veuve Clicquot champagne from Casablanca
- Champagne Dom Pérignon 1953 or 1955 from Dr. No
- Chianti from Silence of the Lambs
- 1953 Château Margaux from Withnail & I
Visually Interesting Wines
If you want to spice up your bar you can purchase wines simply for their bottles.
Chianti and a few other Italian wines are sold in rounded bottles partially covered with a tight-fitting straw basket known as a fiasco. These bottles always look good and add a bit of Italian flair to your decor.
Occasionally, you may find boutique wineries or estates that sell wine in ceramic bottles or in highly decorative bottles, or that have particularly striking labels. Some wineries age their wines in the ocean, which usually results in barnacle-encrusted bottles. Any or all of these could make a great addition to your collection.
However you decide to stock and display wine in your mini bar, the important thing to remember is that red wines should be stored at a temperature between 50-55° F. White wines can be stored in the same temperature range or as low as 45° and you also should protect all wines from direct sunlight. This way, whether on a show or ready for drinking, they’ll taste as good as they look.