77:2 One can make Kiddush and eat even before nightfall. (It is preferable to continue the meal past nightfall and to eat some bread at that time - Mishnah Brurah 267:5). Those who are scrupulous to recite Maariv after dark all week and who daven earlier on Shabbos may not eat starting a half an hour before the stars appear. Therefore, if there is less than half an hour until night, they must wait until nightfall, recite the three paragraphs of Shema, and then make Kiddush. (One should not rebuke those who do not wait until the stars come out to start the meal because there are authorities to rely upon for this – MB 267:6.) One may not taste anything, even water, before Kiddush.
77:3 It is a mitzvah to make Kiddush on aged wine (at least 40 days old – MB 272:5) and to use a choice wine; red wine is preferable. If a sufficient kosher wine is not available, Kiddush may be recited over on raisin wine. “Vay’chulu” should be said standing (as it is testimony, though many people sit because they already stood when saying this in shul – MB 271:47). The one making Kiddush looks at the candles, then he sits, looks at the cup of wine and says the brachos. (Our practice is not to be strict about looking at the candles – MB 271:48. Many authorities feel that it is preferable to sit for Kiddush - MB 271:46.) If wine is not available (or even if it is but if one prefers bread – MB 272:32), then Kiddush may be recited over bread, but it may not be said over other beverages.