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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

How to Get Your Buzz On: The Wine Tasting Party

I became really interested in wine a few years ago, mainly because I didn’t know anything about it, and felt really foolish in restaurants when I had no idea what to order. I like a nice glass of wine with a dinner out, and realized one day, based on a good waitress’ recommendation, that there IS more to wine than White Zinfandel (who knew?). So I bought Wine for Dummies (no lie, I really did!) and learned some basics. And then I decided the best way to see what I really liked was to taste a lot of different wines. Voila! The Wine Tasting Party was born. (I know, I know, it wasn’t a birthday party…and this is birthday party week…but it COULD have been! And MT's post got me thinking about wine. Mmmmm. Wine.)

We invited about 15 people over (yep, with formal invites and everything!) and asked each couple to bring their favorite bottle of red and white wine. I supplied the food. The menu consisted of heavy appetizers that would keep well at room temp for the duration of the party. I was also careful to pick a variety of foods with different tastes and textures, as this definitely affects the flavor of the wine. I had a pesto & marscapone spread with crackers, my cheater version of Martha Stewart’s chicken and apple empanaditas (they’re AWESOME), mini quiches, fresh fruit and a crudite platter, teriyaki beef skewers, shrimp cocktail, MT’s salmon cheesecake with fresh French bread, marinated cherry tomato “sandwiches” (slice a cherry tomato in half, put a fresh basil leaf and a slice of fresh mozzarella between the halves and then re-secure with a toothpick; marinate in a vinaigrette), and a great recipe I have for a potato “cake” (mashed potatoes mixed with sautéed spinach, red & yellow peppers and carrots, then made into little patties and baked until crispy—delish! Pic credit: The Passover Table by Susan Friedland). Yes, the food was on the “fancy” side, and so a little pricier than your typical pizza party, but if you’re budget-minded, you could certainly ask people to bring food with their wine or do simpler dishes—just make sure you have a variety of flavors. For dessert, I made individual vanilla and chocolate bread puddings, and served with a custard sauce, fresh raspberries and champagne. Mmmmm.

I bought small disposable wine glasses, and we put all the bottles out at once. Everyone took little glasses of anything that interested them, and experimented with wine and food taste combos. This was a great conversation starter, which was nice since many of the couples we invited didn’t know each other. I had put out index cards and pens near the wine, so people could write down anything they liked for future reference. It was really interesting to see all the different varieties (we didn’t have a single dupe in 18 bottles of wine!) and to try things that might never have occurred to us. Note: If you do this party, remember to either keep some of the wine corks, or have on hand several of those plastic wine stoppers, because you’ll likely end up with a bunch of bottles that have one glass of wine left…and it’s a sin to waste good wine!

If wine isn’t your thing, or if you have to invite kids as well, try other “tasting” parties. A cheesecake tasting one, or coffee tasting with different desserts, or pick a special ingredient (Iron Chef style) and have everyone bring an item using that ingredient—apples are fun ‘cause you can do both sweet and savory dishes, or carrots, or artichokes, or eggs, or even bread—which lends itself to all sorts of sweet, savory, brunch and other type foods. Go wild!

P.S. If you want any of the recipes from my party, just ask--I'll be happy to post them!


MIQuilter said...

I want all the recipes from your party! Then I want you to come over and fix them to show me how it's all done. I can't do it myself because cooking scares me.

MultiplesMommy said...


❉ pixie ❉ said...

I have so been wanting to do this. Great tips and ideas. I may be stalking you for recipes soon.

BTW, I saw you on Bossy's Road Trip Map and clicked over since your my sorta-neighbor (Toledo, here).

MommyTime said...

Hi Pixie, Thanks for coming over. You must be the pushpin that's sitting in front of my pushpin. :-) We love Toledo for the COSI and the zoo, so we're down in your neck of the woods a few times a year. Ask for recipes anytime...we'd be happy to pass them on.

Scribbit said...

For New Year's Eve we had raclette which was terrific and fun--though instead of the traditional cheese I did it with about half a dozen cheeses to make it more interesting.

MultiplesMommy said...

Ok, Scribbit, showing my ignorance here--what's raclette??

MommyTime said...

MM -- it's a kind of cheese. See here


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