Wine Tasting Party
Throw yourself a cosy wine tasting party this Christmas.
Here in Prince George, a few of us have become notorious for throwing "theme" parties. Part of the northern identity-mystique is that we're expected to drive trucks, enjoy destroying the environment, and, well, get "shit faced" for no particular reason (and then not so appropriately drive home drunk!). The idea of the "theme" party allows me to avoid this northern identity-mystique by partying for a specific reason, whether it be a Rockabilly Bowling Stagette, a Magic Mystery Tour Anniversary Party, or my own 80s-style wedding! Another part of living in the north is that the winter rolls in early. I don't know about you, but for me the transition into winter is my time to thrive. I begin planning more parties, attending more parties, and get straight into gift-crafting mode. All of a sudden summers filled with tuna melts and salad turn into large curries, pots of soup, and thermouses of coffee to ward off the bus ride to school.
This winter we had the fortune of moving (in the rain) into a new place that needed to have a party to honour it. Simultaneously inspired by the work of Amy Sedaris I thought, "yay! theme party!" and we began planning a wine-tasting/house warming party. This is the sort of party I'd recommend trying to throw together at the last minute. Below you will find the directions, the inspirations, the menu, the recipes, the crafts, and the follow through that happened for our wine tasting/house warming event! It can be done on any budget and, as you'll find the recipes, there's some weird ingredients that I've incorporated because they're honestly just sitting in our pantry. If you are on a budget I'd look for what weird things you have around your house (that odd little can of escargot, or a big bag of cumin?) and base your menu on them. Good Luck and don't drink and drive (even if you live in northern Canada!).
Invitations + Guest List
Since we live in the 21st Century and are bound to our computers, we invited everyone via a Facebook event! No beautiful handmade invitations, but a witty little event invite in your inbox. For us, the majority of our friends are on Facebook and it's the easiest way to reach out. What's also good is that you can tell who's coming (or not) right away and make allowances for things like how many wine glasses you're going to need! Our guest list was for 16 people and 14 showed up. Because I also knew who was coming ahead of time, I was able to make personalized wine glass markers using old Canadian encyclopedias from the 1950s.
Because I had just gotten married, I had a random accumulation of weird food in the pantry. My father thought it would be cool to make us a picnic basket (that was so big no one could carry it) filled with "gourmet" things for a picnic. We had oysters, canned shrimps, canned crab, water chesnuts, olives, and fancy crackers. I spent around $40 CDN at the store and was able to feed everyone. Between steamed tortellini with either chipotle or pesto mayo, spicy green bean and cumin deviled eggs (recipe below), mushroom caps stuffed with crab and feta, mini blue potatoes stuffed with feta and onion, and hummus and bread (not to mention all the olives and cheese and crackers), people were stuffed.
The Wine Tasting
Admittedly, we drank wine, but "tasted" very little. I bought really nice stemware (that was 50% off when I hit the department store) to ensure a great tasting experience, but instead everyone just ended up looking really cool with the glasses in their hands. There was a good mix of white, red, and blush wine, and regions and price points were also well represented. All 18 bottles of wine that showed up were consumed, which would indicate as to why none of the paperwork that typically follows a wine party was done.
What you're supposed to do is first, tell everyone how to taste. Look at the smell, the colour, the fluidity of the wine (is it grainy? clear?), the taste on your tongue, and the aftertaste. After that you discuss what you think of the wine you've just tasted. Some comments our wines got were:
Wine 1 (unknown): "light for a red", "garbage", "wet diaper" , "fruity", and "delicious".
Wine 2 (Hester Creek Chardonnay Semillion): "Bright", "fizzy", "fruity", "citrus-y", "summery", "semen/not semen", "cheesy", "burny", "better cold".
Wine 3 (Hester Creek Merlot): "acidic", "well balanced", "full bodied", "black berry", "dark berry", "lips of a stallion", and "I don't hate it".
If 14 people hadn't all consumed a bottle of wine each (and more) in around 2 hours, I think that there would be a list of all the wines we tasted and comments and recommendations for next time. I would also have sent out an email thanking those in attendance and telling them what our top 5 were. But we never got there. Instead, someone brought a cheesecake, I made three bowls of kettle corn, and we spent a good 10 minutes throwing it at eachother. Everyone would go out for cigarettes (though only a few of the guests smoked), and I would be asked if I would divorce my husband and marry this other guest who loved the party so much he thought a marriage would work.
Overall, the night was one of the most fun I've had in a while, even if the clean up was a little smelly (good food leaves smells in your kitchen! A good way to avoid this is to scrape al food before you go to bed and then take the garbage out and rinse all the dishes) and the hangover one of the worst you've had in a long time.