Author Topic: hosting 2nd party ever, please look over, critique & suggest  (Read 2477 times)

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Sibby

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Ok now it's my turn.  I love all the entertaining (& cheese!) advice of late.  I'm having a wine tasting party in a week & a half, please read over my plan & critque, suggest, etc.  This is only the second party I've ever thrown myself so I'm nervous.  Please tell me if I'm forgetting anything or commiting any faux pas so far!  Be brutal, I'd rather know now when I can still change my plans.

The event will be in my apt, 8:00 pm on a Saturday night.  There will be approximately 15-20 people present, ages 22-48 (mostly 30's).  The party area will consist of my 10'x10' dining room which opens (doublewide doorway, no doors) to my 9'x16' living room.  There will also be my small kitchen & my computer room (10'x12') for mingling.  I'm planning to request smokers to use the computer room to smoke which will be set up with 2 easy chairs & a wooden chair (my desk chair) plus a sea chest as coffee table, so as to not bother other guests.

I haven't purchased all my wine yet (suggestions welcome, sticking to Californias) but plan to have about 22 bottles.  I know some guests plan to bring a bottle (even though I have indicated it's not necessary).

Decor will consist of my lovely apt  :), some fresh flowers in vases, and a few (about 8 ) little wine facts/blurbs I cut from magazines & mounted on card stock throughout the room.  Music will be my iPod set on shuffle.

Wine tasting part: I have 2 dozen brand new, sharpened pencils and several tasting score cards (space provided to list wine type, name, vineyard, notes/comments, etc).  I have about 30 wine glasses.  A 1.5 quart fishbowl shaped vase will be used as the "pour bucket".  I will have a large pticher of cold water out, and 24 water glasses.  I also have more than enough wine glass markers (paper rings that fit on the stem that guests can write their names on so they don't loose their glass).  I also have an information card on a table stand with commonly used wine descriptors and a step by step "how to" sample wine.

Food: assorted cheeses (including a brie en crute, and bite size pieces of mozzerella wrapped in proschutto), with a selection of crackers & party rye.  Crudite w/hummus.  Strawberries & grapes.  Olives.  Nuts.  Pretzels.  Sausage slices.  Mini canollis.
My best friend is insisting on bringing a tray of spanikopita (Greek spinach pie).  I'm happy to have it, I just didn't want to heat up my apt with the oven so she's baking it at home (1/2 mile away).

Other: I plan to have 1 case of beer on hand (some people I know don't like wine, but their SO does) and a large pitcher of ice tea.  I have about 8 random cans of soda as well I will make available.
I plan to send everyone home with a 16 oz. bottle of water.

nrb80

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Re: hosting 2nd party ever, please look over, critique & suggest
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2007, 12:00:27 PM »
My suggestions, worth exactly what you paid for them :-)

If you're having wine *tasting*, you might want to skip the flowers, since they can compete with the aromas of the wine, if you are seriously tasting.  If not, don't worry about it.

Most smokers would - and usually prefer to - go out to smoke, which you might prefer.

Don't make the water too cold for tasting - it sounds weird, but not-cold water can be more helpful for washing away taste 1 before taste 2.

The menu is nice, but strongly flavored - you may want to bring out stronger flavors after the tasting, when people are drinking and eating.

I would also suggest some plain crakers during the tasting.

Sibby

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Re: hosting 2nd party ever, please look over, critique & suggest
« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2007, 12:12:26 PM »
Thank you, I never would have thought about the cold water or the scent of flowers interfering!  very helpful info. 
It's not a serious tasting, more just a fun tasting party since half my friends love wine [casually] and half always say "I don't know anyting about wine... I've had some I like but I don't which they are..."  There are others who have never tried more than 3 varieties in their lives.

As for outside to smoke, I live on the 6th floor, with the worlds oldest slowest elevator (when in a rush I always use the stairs) down a long hallway, with locking lobby doors.  It's a full 2 minutes just to get outside.  Hence the smoking room.

I do plan to have plenty of Carr's water crackers out throughout.

veryfluffy

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Re: hosting 2nd party ever, please look over, critique & suggest
« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2007, 01:01:24 PM »
Is there an expert or leader involved in your wine tasting? Or have you been to a good number of tastings/tutored tastings before?

Any wine tasting I have been to, you would need a separate glass for each wine -- you don't just refill, as this will affect the next wine in the glass. Here, most wine merchants and supermarkets offer free glass loan if you are buying wine, so there is no reason not to have enough. You also would expect everyone to be seated at a table, with a white table cloth to allow you to examine the colour and clarity of the wine. Only plain crackers should be eaten during the tasting.

Also, rather than expecting people to write down the wine details, would it be possible to print up a page for each person with the details on?
   

Sibby

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Re: hosting 2nd party ever, please look over, critique & suggest
« Reply #4 on: May 16, 2007, 02:07:23 PM »
Is there an expert or leader involved in your wine tasting? Or have you been to a good number of tastings/tutored tastings before?

Any wine tasting I have been to, you would need a separate glass for each wine -- you don't just refill, as this will affect the next wine in the glass. Here, most wine merchants and supermarkets offer free glass loan if you are buying wine, so there is no reason not to have enough. You also would expect everyone to be seated at a table, with a white table cloth to allow you to examine the colour and clarity of the wine. Only plain crackers should be eaten during the tasting.

Also, rather than expecting people to write down the wine details, would it be possible to print up a page for each person with the details on?


Wow, thanks for the response but that's way more formal then this party will be!   ;D
Even at vineyards and wine tasting classes I've never gotten a separate glass for each wine, just water & a bucket to do a quick rinse; at most a separate for red & white.  I certainly don't have the table/counter space, or an industrial dishwasher to handle hundreds of glasses.

It's also not a "sit-down" thing.  Even most 'commerical' (for lack of a better word, maybe "public"?...) wine tastings i've been to, it's always been a "get an inch of wine & mingle while you taste" atmosphere, which is what I'm aiming for.  I'm definately hoping to keep the "party" in wine tasting party.

Printing up the wine details is something I'd love to do, but it's not feasible for a few reasons - I haven't bought the wine yet; I plan to buy it the Friday before the Saturday party.  I won't have time, nor do I have a home computer.  Also I suspect not everyone will try every wine, or care to have the details on every wine, so I don't want to waste paper (trying to be mindful of my carbon footprint).  Also I know at least 3 people are planning to bring wine, possibly more, and I plan to include them in the testing - there is no way polite way i can think of to get the info in advance.

I appriciate the suggestions for a more formal tasting event tho, and should I ever 'graduate' to that level, i will bear your suggestions in mind.

aline

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Re: hosting 2nd party ever, please look over, critique & suggest
« Reply #5 on: May 16, 2007, 04:04:00 PM »
If you are organizing the tasting part, have your guests taste the wines from lightest to darkest. Keeps your palate from going into overload.

I second nrb80's comment about making sure your water is not too cold. Doesn't need to be warm, but slightly less than room temperature should be sufficient. Ice water will numb taste buds and make it more difficult to taste the next glass.

Have fun! I hope your party goes well.

twinkletoes

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Re: hosting 2nd party ever, please look over, critique & suggest
« Reply #6 on: May 16, 2007, 05:22:43 PM »
This might not be helpful, as you haven't bought the wines yet, but maybe organize the wines by what they have in common?  If you're sticking to California wines, you could organize by region, for instance.

I've heard of some wine parties where guests bring two bottles of wine - one to share, and one to give.  You open one bottle, and put the other in a bag.  Everyone picks a bag at random, and they're told why the guest bought that particular wine (eg, "it has a cool label!").

And here's a neat list of things you can do with your party (they suggest a blind taste):  http://wine.about.com/od/holidayswithwine/ht/Winetastingpart.htm

Sibby

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Re: hosting 2nd party ever, please look over, critique & suggest
« Reply #7 on: May 16, 2007, 05:38:08 PM »
Thank you both (last 2 posters).  The light to dark suggestion is good to know, and that website is helpful (I especially like the wine/cheese pairing advice).

NYGirl100

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Re: hosting 2nd party ever, please look over, critique & suggest
« Reply #8 on: May 16, 2007, 05:48:45 PM »
Since you are having a lot of people, you should get more than one bottle of each wine so everyone will have the opportunity to try all of the wine if they want to do so.  It might be a good idea to get at least 2-3 bottles of each wine - 1 bottle for everyone to taste, and 1 or 2 more bottles for people to drink after the tasting if they like that particular wine. 

I would only get 7-8 kinds of wine at most, because after more than that you start forgetting what each of them is like.  It's fun to end the tasting with champagne and/or dessert wine for something different. 

sparksals

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Re: hosting 2nd party ever, please look over, critique & suggest
« Reply #9 on: May 16, 2007, 06:49:39 PM »
For the number of people you're having, you may want to have more other refreshments available.  Someone may only want to try a couple different wines or they may be driving and would need another non-alchoholic beverage.  You don't want to run out of pop or iced tea.  I suggest you get more than what you need.

You also might want to put a small, not to fragrant candle in your smoking room.  A light vanilla would be good, but nothing too overpowering floral. 

A tip to help get rid of the smoke smell after the party is to place a couple small bowls of vinegar in the room.  It will help absorb the smell of smoke. 

Ondine

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Re: hosting 2nd party ever, please look over, critique & suggest
« Reply #10 on: May 16, 2007, 09:35:28 PM »
How big are the pieces of spanakopita going to be? I personally love this dish, but it is very filling, and may be too much with all the other food if it is in large pieces.

Cattaby

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Re: hosting 2nd party ever, please look over, critique & suggest
« Reply #11 on: May 16, 2007, 11:45:18 PM »
You can turn your night into a bit of a game - my friend did this at her wine tasting, and it was great fun :)

She wrote up vague descriptions of each wine (e.g. a 20 word description of merlot from wikipedia or something) and then the guests had to guess which wine they were tasting, write comments on it, give it a score, etc. After all the wines were tasted (with suitable finger food served at the same time), the different wines were revealed, and whoever scored the most correct answers got a bottle of their favourite wine. Then everyone was free to just indulge in wine and cheese.

*edit: There were other silly games played throughout the night, so guests could score extra points - such as guessing which countries certain wines were from, or playing 'celebrity heads' with wine words (e.g. Barrel, Cellar, Grapes, etc), so the wine experts (not that we really had any!) weren't guaranteed to win.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2007, 11:48:24 PM by Cattaby »

Summrs

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Re: hosting 2nd party ever, please look over, critique & suggest
« Reply #12 on: May 17, 2007, 02:34:17 AM »
Just a wine suggestion for you:  Barefoot Wines

They're inexpensive but verrrry good; award winners. 

barefootwine.com if you want to check out the different varietals... and yes, they're a california winery.

Sibby

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Re: hosting 2nd party ever, please look over, critique & suggest
« Reply #13 on: May 17, 2007, 09:53:37 AM »
Thank you everyone, these suggestions rock! 

The spanikopitka will be cut into small portions, hors d'vours (sp) size - both myself & my bf who's bringing it are sticklers that party food should be no more than 2 bites big.  I'll pick up a few bottles of juice as a non alcoholic alternative as well (altho many guests will be using public transport so not too many worries).

Thanks for the candle in the smoking room idea!  I don't smoke, & would not have thought of it.

And very good call on buying only a handful of wines, but multiple bottles.  Thanks for the California wine link.

I like the game ideas, not sure how my guests would like them, so I think I'll write some up and mount them along with my wine blurbs so guests can happen upon them and decide spur of the moment with whomever they are talking with if they want to play.

Arianoor

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Re: hosting 2nd party ever, please look over, critique & suggest
« Reply #14 on: May 17, 2007, 11:56:42 AM »
Any wine tasting I have been to, you would need a separate glass for each wine -- you don't just refill, as this will affect the next wine in the glass.

I agree, you do need more glasses.  I'm not sure where you are, I'm assuming CA, US, I'm not sure if y'all have Bi-Mart's down there or if it just a NW thing, but I bought sets of 4 crystal wine glasses there for $7 to $9.

Just a wine suggestion for you:  Barefoot Wines

I concur.  I like their Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio.