How was your weekend? It was back to cold, snowy winter here on Saturday, but Sunday turned out to be a gorgeous, sunny day, so we can't complain!
Today we're continuing our new series "Just Five Things" with our latest installment: Wine Parties! You've seen all of the memes, so you know there's nothing mamas like more than a good glass of wine...or in this case, a good dozen glasses of wine! Ha! ;-)
Here are five things we suggest to make your wine party fun and stress-free!
"Wine and friends are a great blend" - Ernest Hemingway
1. Choose a Theme - There are a million directions a wine party can go and believe me, I love all wine, so I kind of want to throw a wine party every month just to explore all the options. But in reality, choosing a theme will bring some focus to your party planning and help your guests with their selections. Choosing your theme may also depend on the level of wine expertise within your group of friends, so it's important to consider that component (I'll also address this later). A theme can be as simple as red, white, or rose. Or maybe you want to explore Italian, French, or Spanish wines? It could be really specific: let's explore the wines of the Piedmonte region. Then there is also the mystery wine party, which sounds delightful, if you ask me. Have your guests bring their favorite wines to taste and conceal the wines in a bag or use a wrap around the bottle to hide the winery information. Then have each guest taste and try to identify the wines. I can assure you, there will be a lot of laughs with this party theme. Mr. Wine Know It All? We'll see about that! Another idea is to ask your friends to bring their favorite wine in a specific price point. We did this recently and it was fascinating to see how varied our tastes were within the group. All the wines were delicious, in case you were wondering!
2. Menu Planning - With all the sipping and slurping, it's easy to forget about the food at a wine tasting party, but please don't! Wine paired with the right food is like having a happy dance in your mouth with each mouthful! Enjoy a sip of red wine and then devour a bite of delicious dark chocolate and you'll see what I mean. Once again, the options are endless, so here are two of our favorites: wine and cheese pairing and wine and chocolate (or dessert) pairing. We love to graze on all things small and bite size, so why not have only appetizers (just make sure there is enough to soak up the wine!). If you chose a specific country or region of wine as your theme, we suggest having all the food come from that area, too. How fun? You'll get to explore the food of that area AND the wine. Get your culture on!
3. Wine Knowledge - I love wine, but I didn't start out knowing everything (and I'm no sommelier, so there is still plenty to learn). My love of wine started in college when I worked in a gift shop. The store owner was amazing and more than happy to share her wine knowledge with me, largely to help me sell to the more seasoned wine drinkers. And heck, it was college, so I wasn't drinking the good stuff on my own (Two Buck Chuck anyone?), but she introduced me to some beautiful wineries (La Crema Pinot Noir - swoon!). When throwing your wine party, it's important to know if your group is well versed on wine or just getting started. Will this be a test of the palate or an introduction to Merlot? Yes, you had me at Merlot! If it's more of a wine education party (think beginner level), try to incorporate some interesting wine facts to coordinate with your theme. If your friends' wine expertise is more sophisticated, print out some wine tasting cards to test their palate and knowledge.
4. Disposable vs. the Good Tableware - This is definitely dependent on two factors (1) do you trust your friends to be careful with your good glassware after they've been sipping wine all night? and (2) the morning after. I for one, LOVE to bring out the good wine glasses, my adorable appetizer plates, and all my fabulous serving platters for any parties I'm hosting. My husband pretty much curses me all morning after the party, when he is hand washing every one of those items :-(. But somehow we manage. And if you don't mind your kitchen full of dirty dishes when you wake up, while the kids are screaming for breakfast and you have a slight headache (or big one!), than by all means bring out the good stuff. I'm just saying, there are some wonderful plastic wine glasses (yeah, no broken glass to clean up when dance party gets out of control late night) that look like the real stuff and are dishwasher safe - win, win! And don't get me started on all the super cute paper plate and napkin color combinations we could suggest here ;-). Listen, I'm all for the elegant party presentation, but let's also be practical and remember our time is limited, so why not make life easy and go with some disposable components (napkins, plates, utensils, and water cups).
5. Decorations - Well, you know we couldn't have a party post without suggesting decorations as a key component! As you can tell by now, we don't go over the top with our decor, but by all means DO SOMETHING! For a wine party, let the wine and food do the heavy lifting. We think wine glass labels or wine charms are essential. Our new favorite things are the markers that write on your glasses, and then wash off. Brilliant! And we always love a cute food label - dress up the names with a cute block of cheese image or a chocolate image. Or, do what we did, and use black chalkboard paper to cover the table. Write little notes and comments about the menu and wines for your guests with a white chalkboard pen. A banner always sets the tone for any party, so why not for a wine party?! We whipped this one up that says "Sip, Sip, Hooray!" and are mildly obsessed with it. It's totally appropriate for my friends upcoming bachelorette party too, so we have an excuse use it again, right?? And why not make good use of those wine corks to add to the party atmosphere rather than just throwing them out. Here are a few fun centerpiece ideas that can dress up any table decor.
"Trust Me, You Can Dance" - Wine
What are your favorite tips and tricks for a wine party? Have you thrown or attended one? Will you have one after reading this?? Please let us know in the comments or drop us a line!
Sarah & Erin