Are you thinking of hosting a wine & food tasting party and don’t know where to start? Here is an idea to make it easy, with little cost, and you do not need to know much about wine or food. The principle is simple; each guest, or couple, brings a bottle of wine and food/appetizer that goes well with the wine. As your guests arrive offer them sparkling wine and light appetizer.
To start the evening, each couple is asked to describe what they brought and why they think the wine and food are a good pairing. This is really a fun part of the evening. Now it’s time to eat and drink. You need to allocate a specific amount of time for this portion of the evening. When time is up, the guests are asked to gather and vote for their favorite food and wine pairing, the winner receiving a simple, wine related gift.
Your invitation will ask your guests to bring a bottle of wine and food to go with it. The food should be something easy to serve, easy to eat and that fits on a small plate. ‘Bite size’ portions work the best. You are only going to provide plastic plates and utensils, so instruct your guests to bring anything necessary to serving their dish. The wine choice can be wide open or you can create a theme to make it more interesting. For instance you might decide the wine has to be from a particular geographic location or that it not be any of the typical varieties like Cabernet, Merlot or Chardonnay. Whatever you decide, be sure you explain it clearly on the invitation.
You’ll want to end up with about eight food and wine pairings. Eight is about as many as the average person can deal with in one evening. You don’t need printed invitations, email works just fine. Sending a save the date in advance of the party will improve attendance. Be sure your invitation explains how the party works and any rules you’ve set for the evening. That will eliminate confusion among guests who haven’t been to this type of event before.
As host, your work is pretty much done after you send out the invitations. Your role at the party is primarily as master of ceremonies. You will provide the reception wine and appetizer, the best-pairing gift, note paper, pens, small plastic plates, plastic eating utensils, cocktail napkins, cork screws, ice buckets (cheap, plastic or paper paint buckets will work) and glasses. Most of us don’t have enough stemware for 16 people, so your choices here are three. You can buy 16 inexpensive, but decent wine glasses, use plastic glasses, or ask your guests to bring their own stemware. Brining your own stemware sounds a bit strange, but it is actually very practical for this type of event and its one more thing you won’t have to wash when the party is over. Enjoy!