There is a range of things I love to do in the summer and one of my favorites is hosting outdoor dinner parties. Now that we have an outdoor patio to use, I can foresee a lot of dinner soirees being hosted out there. If you’re planning a dinner party in the near future, read on for a few tips on why hosting a BYOB dinner party is the most relaxed, stress-free way to enjoy the summer.

Why You Should Host a Summertime BYOB Dinner Party

You focus more on the menu.

Planning a dinner party is stressful enough, and to add an alcoholic component makes it even more stressful. Suppose your guests don’t enjoy a certain variety of wine that you’re serving? It could throw off their experience, too. If you request guests to Bring Your Own Bottle, they’ll have more control over what they want to drink and you’ll have a larger opportunity to focus on the menu items you’re serving.

My go-to at a BYOB dinner party, like at No.ninetytwoatl’s Pop Up dinner, is Cakebread Cellars Chardonnay Reserve because of its fresh, creamy finish that goes with a myriad of dishes. The citrus and melon flavors really amplified our starters of fresh seafood.

Flowers and wine on table

It’s fun to plan a creative menu and release it to your guests beforehand.

Half the fun of planning a dinner party is planning the menu! If you ask your guests to bring a bottle of their own to drink, make sure you release the menu to them beforehand. That way, if your guests know what they are eating at dinner, they’ll be able to plan for the proper wine pairing throughout.

Encourage your guests to bring a bottle of white and a bottle of red. At our dinner pop up, we brought a bottle of Cakebread Cellars Chardonnay Reserve and Cakebread Merlot. Typically a multi-course meal will move from lighter to heavier dishes. When that happens, you want to switch from a lighter to heavier wine.

The Chardonnay paired excellently with our first two courses, the scallop crudo in asparagus crema and the braised collard green salad with roasted beets. The freshness of the scallop crudo with the bitterness of asparagus was heightened by the citrusy flavors of the Chardonnay. When we moved on to the heavier courses, the chicken confit and spring veggies in a tomato sauce, the Merlot with its lush red and black cherry notes paired nicely against the savory skin of the chicken confit.

No more worries about constantly refreshing guests’ wine glasses.

As any good hostess knows, she should always be ready to excuse herself from a meal to make sure that her guests have a properly filled glass of wine. If you request your guests to BYOB, they will typically be responsible for refilling their own glass. There will be no awkward presumptions about whether or not someone would like another glass because they will have the opportunity to fill at their own will. I recommend having white wine chillers and wine coasters ready to keep your guests wine well attended while they are drinking it. White wine chillers can come in different forms through a traditional ice bucket, a corksicle, or even these new wine tumblers that chill the outside of your bottle. For red wine, make sure you have a coaster and a kitchen towel to catch any stray drips that may happen from pouring a glass.

Finally, if you decide in the end you’d like to host the full dinner, and not ask guests to BYOB, here’s a simple rule: I recommend having two types of wine on hand for your guests—a light white that is agreeable for all palettes like a Cakebread Cellars Chardonnay and a medium-bodied red like a Cakebread Cellars Merlot. Both of these varietals are sure to keep your guests happy throughout the meal.

White Chardonnay at dinner table with green food

Find the wines near you:

Three Cakebread wine bottles


Cynthia is the creator of the blog Darling Down South, and is a California native relocated to Atlanta, Georgia who has spent most of her life figuring out whether she was Southern or Californian. She non-ironically uses y’all now, so believes it is safe to say she is southern. Her blog captures navigating modern life with a southern-ish twist. Darling Down South began in 2015 as a southern life well-explored, whether that is seasonal and fresh recipes, a new travel destination, or reinventing personal style through home and fashion.

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