Have you seen those Groupon-like in-home wine tasting dealios that pop up every once in a while? There was one on Bloomspot a while back and I snagged it. I honestly wasn’t sure what it was going to entail since it was absurdly cheap considering it included someone coming to you and bringing like 8 bottles of wine, but bought it I did!
Once I finally set up a date that worked with the 12 people we were inviting, I booked the tasting and pended a note to self that I was going to need to get my plan on. Especially in the event that the “wine specialist” bro that this company was sending was a bore.
FFWD to an anniversary trip to Napa and an awesome private tasting at my all-time favorite winery, Laird! I love Cabs, Napa Cabs in particular – and Laird is where dreams come true for people like me! The Pyramid tasting was like no other one that I have been to, a really good combination of intimate, interesting & enjoyable. I could go on and on about why Laird is the little known King of Napa Valley…but that can be saved for another day. Anyways, after the tasting our driver took us to Rubicon (now called Inglenook which sounds terrible) to rendezvous with my Aunt & Uncle and we are telling them about the tasting and out of nowhere (yes, on the slow side that day) I realize that all of the thoughtfully chosen appetizers & wine pairings would be PERFECT for the upcoming wine party!
From Left to Right:
Granny smith apple, triple cream brie & candied pecans. PAIR WITH: A citrusy Chardonnay *This one was easy to make and the ingredients were readily accessible, one thing to note is that sometimes it’s frustrating doing something as simple as spreading brie on an apple slice because it doesn’t adhere right off the bat due to the apple’s moisture. Slow & steady wins the race here.
Dried Turkish apricots topped with a substantial blue cheese & a macadamia nut. PAIR WITH: An oaky Chardonnay *A lot of people seemed to like this with reds better, all in all it worked with both, but would recommend pairing with a rich red.
Thin savory cracker, aged Parmigiano Reggiano & dried cranberries. PAIR WITH: Pinot Noir
Thin savory cracker, aged Comte cheese & a honey and balsamic dijon mustard. PAIR WITH: Merlot
65% cocoa dark chocolate. PAIR WITH: Cabernet Sauvignon *I opted for 65% cocoa dark chocolate with sea salt and it was full of win. Absolutely recommend going that route!
I replicated some of the apps above with a variation here and there, in addition to a few of my own. Also as you can see in some of the snapshots from our party below, I set up some of the apricot/blue/walnut bites & apple/brie/candied walnut bites and then scattered the ingredients amongst so that guests could follow the lead and make their own once they were consumed.
Here’s what I did for the party:
-Did a simple runner of chalkboard contact paper (that I had left over from Super Bowl) down the center of the dining table. Secured it with painters tape right onto the table cloth just so it wouldn’t slide around. On the runner (main appetizer runway) I scattered:
-5 big blocks of cheese. I love cheese, and so did everyone there. Best part was that I was prepared to go to Whole Foods to get what I needed, but on a routine Costco trip saw that they had EVERYTHING I WAS LOOKING FOR! WHAT! Costco, I love you. Here’s what I got, I personally recommend this exact combination of cheese types:
- 2 different bries – 1 super common, mild one (Brie le Cremeux) and a triple cream one of amazingness (Fromager d’Affinois Triple Cream)
- 2 different blues – 1 traditional crumbly, but still soft one (Point Reyes Original Blue), 1 brie/blue combo (Cambozola)
- 1 hard – think parmigiano, gouda or other, but aged beyond regular grocery store standards
…stabbed each block with a cheese knife and then with chalk I scribbled (right as the first batch of crostini were burning & everyone was arriving, of course!) the general cheese type and if I had any brief adjective to help anyone unfamiliar out!
- Crostini with mascarpone & proscuitto
- BITES: apricot/bleu/walnut & apple/brie/candied walnut
- Watermelon/basil/feta/balsamic – would NOT recommend this for many reasons. Taste wasn’t superb enough & the feta (because I got the good Bulgarian stuff) crumbled so many times when I was assembling it was a joke.
- Baguette slices, apricots, walnuts, grapes, apple slices, sea salt dark chocolate squares, POCKY STICKS! (because I saw them at the store and couldn’t fight childhood nostalgia), homemade fig bars & bottles of water
- Pens for rating, wine glasses (duh!), small cocktail plates & napkins