2 Thou shalt… Keep your cool
For the ultimate serving temperature, whack your whites in the fridge for 1½ hours (at 8-10°C), and keep reds at “room temperature” between 14-18°C. To speed-chill bottles, pop them in a bath filled with ice and salt – the salt helps break down the ice, making the water chill faster.
3 Thou shalt… Box clever
The quality of wine boxes has rocketed, and a bag in a box keeps wine fresher than leaving it in an open bottle. If you don’t want to give the game away, serve it from a jug or decanter. Try fresh and zingy La Mancha Airen (£13.29, Lidl) and plummy Diego de Almagro Tempranillo (£13.99, Ocado).
4 Thou shalt… Be a cocktail queen
A batch of cocktails always goes down well and works out cheaper too! Try this recipe for Last Reindeer Standing. Mix 1 x 500ml bottle each of Janneau Grand Armagnac (£14.57, Asda) and Tesco Calvados VSOP (£14.50), juice of 10 lemons, 200ml honey, 800ml apple juice, 4 bottles Fever Tree Ginger Beer (£1.69 each, Sainsbury’s) and add plenty of ice. Serves 20.
5 Thou shalt… Spend wisely
Look like you’ve spent big bucks when you’re on a budget. South America, the South of France and Sicily all produce great bargain booze. Sainsbury’s Sicilian White Wine (£4.59) has a grapefruit tang, while Firemark Tempranillo Bonarda (£5.99, Tesco) brings brawny blueberry action.
6 Thou shalt… Never run dry
Work on the basis of one glass of wine per person per hour at a drinks party – this equates to half a bottle of wine per head for a two-hour party, and a bottle each for four hours. So if you are having 60 people for a four-hour party, you’ll need around five cases of wine.
7 Thou shalt… Remember the drivers
Make sure you stock up on some tasty beverages for the non-drinkers. Torres Natureo (£5.99, Waitrose) has a killer zing and only 0.5 per cent alcohol. Or for total purists try the fiery Belvoir Fresh Root Ginger Beer (£2.29, Sainsbury’s).
8 Thou shalt… Find a match made in heaven
When pairing wine with canapés, choose medium-bodied types that will mesh well with a whole raft of flavours. White lovers should try McWilliams Sunstone Chardonnay (£6.99, Ocado) – it goes brilliantly with smoked-salmon dip. For the red, reach for pepper-fest flavours of the beef-and-game-friendly La Chasse du Pape Réserve Côtes du Rhône (£7.99, Sainsbury’s).
9 Thou shalt… Be a wine whizz
To ramp up the wattage at smaller gatherings and really impress your guests, why not bag a bottle of something special? Sample the peachy cream-soda flavours of Cloudy Bay Chardonnay (£19.79, Ocado), or dig deep for the dazzling red fruit Clos de los Siete (£13.99, Majestic). Your guests will thank you for it.
10 Thou shalt… Remember hair of the dog
The morning after, try this cocktail cure. Coconut water restores electrolytes found in blood, so is fab for hangovers. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, add 1 carton of Vita Coco (£2.49, Waitrose), the juice of 1 lemon, 2 measures of Lidl Putinoff Premium Vodka (£8.49) and shake for 10 seconds. Strain into 2 martini glasses to fix the throb!