Wine is a wonderful common denominator for both making and hosting friends; a fabulous way to enjoy both is to host a wine country party. Traditionally, these are held in wine-making regions of the U.S., such as Northern California, and center around leisurely dinners and wine. Perhaps a long dinner table might be set up in a vineyard. Or the party might begin with guests gathered on the host's terrace overlooking the grapevines for a glass of wine, followed by a delicious meal in the dining room.
But you don't have to live in Napa Valley to have a wine country party. In fact, with the right decorative touches, musical selections, food choices and (of course) wine, you can create the mood of a wine country party in any backyard. We'll show you how.
First, you’ll want to choose appropriate music and decor to create the ambience. You could go traditional and choose white linens, tall candles and classical music. Or you could select vibrant colors and contemporary music for a more casual gathering. One nice touch is to match the music you play at your party to the region where the wine you're serving was produced. For example, pair French cafe music with French wines or Flamenco music with wines from Spain. This theme can be carried into the decor.
Decide whether you'll provide all the wine or have guests contribute. If you want to be sure that all your wines and foods pair as you wish, then personally select your wines for the event. If you want to find new favorites (or save some money), ask your guests to bring their favorite bottle of wine. However, be sure to establish a price range (for example, a bottle costing no more than $20) so that no one goes overboard.
About four to six weeks before your wine country party, send out invitations to your guests. The invitations should reflect the mood of your affair, and the guest list can be large or small depending on the kind of party you want to have. A smaller size of about six to eight people is best if you're hosting a blind wine tasting, which we'll discuss on the next page.