Guest Author - Kristi Larson
Okay, so maybe not 80, but the explosion of wine in recent years makes a wine party a very popular option! This theme involves touring many different countries through their wine. Even if you don’t know anything about wine, you can still pull off a terrific gathering, and maybe learn something in the process! A great starting point is wine.com or The Wine Messenger.
Beverages: Obviously the main focus! The idea with this theme is to select wines from a variety of countries. You can find many affordable and delicious options by opting for wines from places not yet popular for their wines. A very budget friendly and fun option would be to have your guests each bring a bottle of wine from a different or obscure country-you might consider giving them a specific country on their invitation to avoid getting several bottles from one country. Another spin on this option would be to have a contest for the guest who brings wine from the most obscure country or the best tasting wine under $10. Prize options could be a wine opener, wine glasses, a wine stopper, wine charms…you get the idea!
As a basic rule of thumb, for those of you will little to no wine experience, red wines should be served at room temperature (actually around 60-65 degrees), and white wines should be chilled. Red wines are traditionally served in glasses with larger bowls. If you don’t have many wine glasses, ask your wine-drinking friends if you can borrow some. As a wine drinker myself, I am often given them as a no-brainer gift and have more of them than I know what to do with!
Food: Fruits and cheeses make excellent companions to wine. In addition to standards like strawberries, blueberries, melon and grapes, consider some unusual selections: star fruit, kiwi, or mango. Use moderation with these unique offerings however, as the prices will be considerably more than the traditional fare. The same rule applies for cheeses. Cheddar, Monterey Jack, and even Bleu cheeses will provide a starting point. Delicious wine complements include fruit infused Stilton, smoked Gouda, Brie, Port salut, and Boursin. Supply a variety of crackers and baguettes to go with the cheeses.
Décor: Use lots of grapes and grapevines or ivy, large maps of the world, extra wine glasses, tea lights, wine bottles (full or empty and recorked), and fabric in earthy or jewel tones. Using small tables, or something wine bottles can be placed on, set up regional wine stations around the room (Europe, Asia, Australia, etc.) by creating beautiful labels for each region on the computer (with elegant fonts and clip art of grapes and vines), laminating, and posting. Between each station hang the large maps. Find general information regarding each wine region and post at the corresponding station.
For the food serving area, utilize boxes, cake stands, whatever is available, to create different heights for the food. Cover with fabric and bunch it up in different spots. If you have small pieces of fabric in complementing colors, puddle those up throughout the area also. On top of these fabric puddles place one wine glass on its side and one upright. Place a tea light in the upright glass. Drape the glass on its side with the grape or ivy. Randomly place the bottles, both upright and on their side, throughout the buffet. Leave some baguettes uncut and place at random on the table also.
To add the finishing touches tuck grapes and ivy in everywhere, label your cheeses, and look up a little wine trivia to amaze your guests. You could also put up wine trivia around the room; the guests will love it!