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How To Throw A Wine Party
by Jonathon Alsop
November 2000

Summer may be in life's rear view mirror right now, but the good news is that autumn is fun too as entertaining moves indoors and the fireplace gets a workout. Autumn and winter are traditionally seasons for heavier, more serious food and wine, and the wine tasting party is a great way to explore our changing tastes and habits at home. Try these themes, and next thing you know, you'll have your own wine club going.

Wine Night At Chez Nous
As the host, you pick a type of wine and ask your guests to bring one or two bottles of that type. This is good because it sends your friends out into the wine world, and wherever they shop, salespeople should get excited about the theme and really give them energetic and good advice. Some wine suggestions: 1995 Bordeaux, 1998 Rhone Valley, Argentine Malbec, Sicilians, Aussie Shiraz, you name it, almost anything works.

Wine-Friendly Food
Again, as the host, prepare some tremendously wine-friendly dish and send your guests out to get one white and one red to match. It's sort of a wine scavenger hunt. Some great main courses are lamb osso buco, herb roasted chicken, or bouillabaisse. Anything savory will inspire a wine that's interesting. Best of all, you cook one thing, serve it with lots of crusty French bread, and they bring the wine!

My Favorite Wine
As a way of getting to know what your friends' tastes are, nothing compares with this theme. Just tell your guests to bring their favorite white and their favorite red, and you'll see what people love. If they protest that they don't have a favorite wine, tell them they can bring your favorite wine! As host, you cook dinner, of course, and it should be a parade of your favorite specialties.

Tasting Blind
Announce your theme for all to know as above, but as soon as people arrive with their wine, steal away and conceal it in a tall lunch bag or a pre-1980 tube sock. Taste through, get everyone to commit, then reveal the wines. It's great fun when people despise the very wine they brought, or when everyone loves the $4 wine and hates the $37 wine. It happens.

Tips And Hints
Rent the wine glasses… it's the same price as breaking three nice glasses, which is likely… rent a bunch of cocktail plates too. Display the wine… if you have a mantle above a fireplace, or a long table, use it. Sequence the wine… line them up from youngest to oldest, cheaper to more expensive, lighter to darker, from white to red, whatever comes naturally.

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