Get Inspired with Party Ideas and Planning Advice
|PLUS Join the thousands of members already using our Free online and printable invitations and full suite of party planning tools.||Free Sign-up Now »|
Party idea submitted by BizGirl Feb 2nd, 2008
Cheers! How to Throw a Wine Party at Keg Party Prices
by Jenn Hulbert |
My roommate and I had been out of college for more than two years when we came to a humiliating realization: we had yet to throw a grown-up party. With our typical twenty-something budgets, it was far too tempting to fall back on the beer-guzzling bashes of our college days, with their cheap thirty-packs and giant bags of chips. But with the roommate’s 25th looming on the horizon, we decided to plan a civilized event that traded in the collegiate keg for swanky wine without sending us to the poor house in the process.
Birthdays, promotions, milestones, sheer boredom: twentysomething life is full of occasions that require official celebrations. Parties are sometimes unavoidable, even when mundane matters like rent and school loan payments mean that money is tight. Not to worry, because a chi-chi wine tasting party can be easier and less taxing than you would think. Even the cheapest and laziest among us can throw one of these puppies together.
Yes, a party revolving around wine sounds sophisticated, and sophisticated sounds expensive. Don’t be frightened by such words; play the traditional hoity-toity wine tasting for slightly kitschy kicks, and get your guests to help supply the featured goods. The point of this party is to explore and share the many thrills wine has to offer. In your E-vite (www.evite.com), simply ask each guest to bring a different bottle of wine. It can be their favorite wine or something they’ve always wanted to try. Most importantly, make sure they know that it isn’t supposed to be expensive. After all, your friends are as new to this adult thing as you are, and you don’t want to scare them away.
As the bottles arrive, uncork them and arrange wines according to type. If you want to be really cute, let each guest fill out a note card with a brief blurb about the wine and why they chose it; attach notes to their corresponding bottles. Now, official wine tasting is an art involving a complicated ritual of sniffing, swirling, sipping, and spitting, but this is not that kind of pretentious party. Let your guests taste the various wines on their own time, and by all means, drink up. Though a bottle per guest sounds like a lot of wine, we found that many people brought food instead, and some co-dependent couples brought one bottle between them. Wines that were not finished were simply sent home with their biggest fan.
Thanks to IKEA, we were able to make sure that each of our guests had their own wine glass from which to explore. If you don’t have an IKEA, scour the thrift stores for cheapo glassware. You can also try a discount party store; if they don’t carry inexpensive wine glasses, they’ll at least have plastic goblets. At fifty cents a pop, our glasses were affordable enough that we let guests take them home as party favors. The favor, of course, is the mark of a truly grown-up party. The only souvenirs garnered from college parties are hangovers and hickies.
No adult party is complete without hors d’oeuvres, and no wine party is complete without cheese. It’s not just tradition talking here; wine and cheese pair perfectly because the fat in the cheese creates a smooth palate for the wine. Clearly, Tostitos and con queso won’t cut it for a wine tasting, but with the world of fine cheese nearly as intimidating as wine, how do you figure out what kind of cheese to get?
Different types of cheese complement different wines; for your wine tasting, get a cheese to go with each of the most common kinds of wine. A few basic cheeses will cover several wine bases. Strong cheddar pairs well with a cabernet or a sauvignon blanc, brie highlights the flavors of wines like merlot and pinot noir, gruyere and provolone cheeses compliment chardonnays, and muenster couples beautifully with zinfandels. At Trader Joe’s a block of each was a reasonable expense. We labeled each cheese with the wine that it complemented so that our guests became as educated as they did tipsy.
Because cheese is so expensive, we chose to beef up the spread with crackers, french bread and olive oil, and wine-friendly fruit like grapes, pears, apples, and strawberries. The final accent? Chocolate! There’s no rule that says that good party food has to be homemade. When there’s wine for distraction, no one notices that the brownie bits came from Trader Joe’s.
Unfortunately, when serving such a repast, the dirty chip bowl and dining hall plates left over from your dorm days just don’t measure up. While at IKEA, we picked up a couple of matching serving trays, decorative napkins, and ceramic vases for flowers, all in warm, fall colors. Inspired by these colors, we bought two bunches of autumn flowers. Because it was the beginning of the autumn season, the bouquets were on sale. We arranged one bunch in an old vase and placed it in the center of the serving table. We separated the other into several empty wine bottles and arranged them all around the apartment. When decorating for a party, don’t forget the bathroom. In adulthood, it’s not just for puking anymore.
Because our twenty-something apartment still houses much of the same furniture we had in college, we made sure to disguise this with the soft glamour of candle light. We arranged the candles and furniture so that there were several conversation-friendly locations. For added allure, we made sure each area had its own serving of treats. People tend to coagulate around the kitchen no matter what its size, so any attempt to move the party is a worthy one.
Of course, despite our best efforts, our guests flocked to the kitchen. After all, that was where the wine was. That aside, our minimal efforts and investment were more successful than we ever imagined. When all the guests have arrived and all the wine has been uncorked, you too will be amazed at the grown-up personas that your friends will adopt. When you replace a beer can with wine glass it automatically increases your sophistication by at least 90%. At the peak of the party, the roommate and I ran into each other at the brie station. We looked around at our success, cabernets in hand, and agreed that the last time we were at a party like this, we were in Paris.
o Jenn Hulbert is an editorial assistant and struggling party girl living in Los Angeles.
Contributed by: www.digsmagazine.com
Photo by: Tom Mascardo on Flickr
add to basket 0 comments
This item has 0 comments
Related Party Ideas
- by Partybluprints - Aug 30th, 2008
- A wine tasting is a stimulating way to share an evening with friends. It is a great social activity for a tight knit group of friends or a group... more
- by winetasting - Jan 6th, 2010
- WE BRING THE WINE COUNTRY TO YOU Introduce friends to a memorable event by hosting a private wine tasting in the comfort of your home or office.... more