Wine is the beer of the new millennium. Good wines, regardless of budgetary constraints, are easily available at most supermarkets. Previously reserved for special occasions or linked to certain social circles, it has become more mainstream and hip than ever before.
Enjoying wine on its popularity upswing can be an excellent way to spend an evening with colleagues or friends. It can still be an intimidating prospect, however, for the millions out there who are more wine novice than wine connoisseur. Fear not. A successful wine party is a feat one can pull off with just a bit of preparation.
1. Invitations and RSVPs are essential elements to take care of. They don't need to be formal or expensive. In fact, an e-mail version will more than suffice for your purposes. You must have an accurate headcount to make sure none of your guests go thirsty.
2. Stemware is a key component of the entire event. After all, no one is drinking wine without it. Do not be intimidated by the insane number of choices available at your local department store.
Stay within your budget when selecting your wine glasses. The wine will not taste any better coming from an expensive crystal version. Department stores are one option. A trip to an outlet mall, should you have the time prior to your event, will often give you more affordable alternatives.
The bottom line is making sure you have enough glasses. Add an additional five glasses to your final RSVP number. This will allow for any losses due to breakage or guests who failed to confirm they were going to attend.
3. Hors d'oeuvres and wine go hand in hand. This is an excellent opportunity to explore not only new wines with your friends but also food. The traditional pairing with wine had always been cheese. Even those not inclined in the kitchen can use this to stretch beyond cheese and add some spice to their gathering.
Here's a quick list of simple appetizers and wines to pair them with:
Calamari can be found prepared in the freezer section of your supermarket. All you'll have to do is bake or fry it. Pair it with Chardonnay to flatter the breading.
Mini Fruit Tarts can be purchased at any local bakery. Personal preference will dictate which wine you pair it with. Pair it with a white wine such as Pinot Grigio to offset the sweet or with a dessert wine, such as Ice Wine.
Bruschetta is in the deli section of your local market. Buy a bag of your favorite flavor of toasted bread. Pair it with any wine selection at your party other than a dessert wine.
Grilled garlic shrimp- mix butter and fresh ground garlic in a bowl. Coat the shrimp prior to putting them on the grill and halfway through grilling. Sprinkle with fresh lemon juice before taking off the heat. Pair it with a Red Zinfandel or Pinot Blanc.
4. Your party will not be complete without the actual wine. A bottle of wine will generally serve four to five glasses, depending on the amount you're pouring. You should factor in at least four glasses for each of your guests. Keep in mind; you know your friends best. If your event will last more than a few hours, factor this in.
Purchasing is the next phase after you've determined quantity. You need to be cognizant of people's varying tastes. It is, therefore, critical to have a good mix of red and white for people to experiment with.
The wines noted above are a good starting point. Adding in one more white and red will give you a decent variety for your first party. Cabernet Sauvignon is a popular red, and Riesling is a known white.
5. The devil will be in the details of your decorating. Again, you don't need to be an apprentice of Ms. Stewart to add beauty to your event. A person on time and budget constraints can do wonders in a matter of minutes.
Take the basics you have around your home and reinvent them. A simple crystal bowl filled with water and a few colorful floating candles are simple but elegant. A half-dozen roses in bud vases scattered around your table or bar will add a hint of sophisticated color.
6. The miscellaneous nuts and bolts are all you have left to attend to. Make sure you have at least two good corkscrews on hand. You never know when one will malfunction, and you don't want a full room and no means of quenching their thirst. Bottle stoppers will be a good investment for any bottles your party doesn't finish.
Finally, don't forget to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Your first wine party is well on its way to earning kudos from your friends.