I recently met a woman who was planning a wine and charcuterie party; each guest was bringing a board and a bottle of wine and I made some suggestions on how to pair the wine with the food. It got me thinking how fun that would be – a bring your own anything - for an all-girl party for Galentine’s Day, or a couples’ Valentine’s Day party. Either way, here are some ideas to glam and romance it up.
Know Your Guests’ Preferences
Keep in mind that you should discuss preferences with your guests before the night of your party. If the majority, male or female, prefer one variety of wine to another then stick with that. When my white-wine-loving gal pal had me lead a tasting in her home, with all females, she was very unhappy when all of her guests brought red wine! So, please talk to your guests first about what kind of wines they like before planning your party. Now, let’s get started.
Every festive occasion usually starts with bubbles, and I like my guests to be greeted with a glass of something sparkling when they walk in the door. Because I don’t want to wash glasses all night, I explain that the best way to detect aromas and flavors from a sparkling wine is to enjoy it in a regular wine glass.
If you’ve asked your guests to bring one bottle of wine and a dish to share, suggest that they pair them. One half of the couple can pick the wine, while the other half has to find the pairing. So, say a guest wants to bring a favorite Cabernet Sauvignon, a typical pairing for that particular wine can be found via a simple Google search. For me, I invested in a great book, What to Drink With What You Eat by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg. And if you are going to do pairing parties often, I can’t suggest a better resource.
Now, to begin, start with the lighter wine pairings first. For example, after your sparkling, next would come a white, then later your reds. If you have multiples of either white or red start with the bottles that have the least alcohol. Prompt guests to pour tastes, not full pours, so that nothing is wasted. Provide pour-out buckets for unwanted wine. Then, while you are enjoying your pairings, prompt your guests to describe how the wine, or the food, changes when combined. Of course, you can just drink and eat! If you do want to challenge your guests, have them vote on which couple’s pairing was the best and why.
Finale Game: What Attracted You to Your Partner or Galentine
While the wine starts to do its trick, aka you are feeling relaxed, see if your couples/Galentines want to play a simple game. Put everyone’s name into a bowl, and whichever name is drawn that person has to say what it was that attracted him or her to their partner or Galentine. Take turns choosing a name from the bowl. This game forces out a sweet memory from your partners and a cheers – literally or figuratively - to that memory!
Eve Bushman is Wine and Spirits Education Trust certified, a North American Sommelier Association American Wine Specialist®, authored Wine Etiquette for Everyone, and has served as a judge for the Proof Awards, Cellarmasters, LA Wine Competition, Long Beach Grand Cru and the Global Wine Awards
Every festive occasion usually starts with bubbles, and I like my guests to be greeted with a glass of something sparkling when they walk in the door.