Hosting dinner parties is great fun – when it goes right, that is! Planning a party can be stressful, especially if there’s quite a few of you and you don’t know some of your guests that well.

One problem is choosing the right wine so that everyone is at least content with their drink. Here’s how you navigate the minefield.

Some will want white and some will want red

This is one of the main dilemmas and while it can often be sorted out by looking at the food you’re serving, sometimes it’s not that easy. Of course, some people place regular bulk orders of red and white wine so they always have lots in, but if you don’t have a bulging cellar, the answer may well be a rich rosé.

The great thing about the better rosés is that they appeal to white drinkers as they’re crisp and dry, and red fans as they have depth and complexity, even when chilled.

Dry or sweet?

This problem often comes up when extended family visits – our oldsters do love a sweet wine, but the rest of the family doesn’t. However, very often, people ask for a sweet wine when they’d actually be just as happy with a fruity one with low acidity.

California can offer some great options here – a Sauvignon Blanc is a great catchall, with big fruity notes while still being dry.

Some want oaky, others want light and clean

Whites seem to fall into two camps – oaky and rich against light and fresh. There is a middle ground between Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio, with some whites that have a hint of oak, acidity and fresh fruit flavors. Try a Chenin Blanc or a white Burgundy.

Some want a lighter red and others want to go dark and heavy

For this you need a full-bodied red with a lot of acidity. Acidity tends to lighten things up – a wine can have a surprisingly high alcohol content but because of its acidity it can seem very light and innocuous (be careful here!). Try an Italian red, such as an Umbrian Sagrantino or a Barolo.

If you prefer to stay local, then try a full-bodied red with a low tannin content. High tannin can make a red wine seem coarse and this will put off people who are used to lighter reds. You can offer a full-bodied Californian Merlot or a Zinfandel, especially if you chill it slightly to bring out more flavors.