I am big on gift giving. I don’t like junk or clutter, so I try not to give it!
A lonnnnnnnnng time ago I saw the following quote – and I thought it expressed my sentiments about gift giving to a tee and it has stuck with me ever since!
“The excellence of a gift lies in its appropriateness rather than in its value” said by the honorable (?) Charles Dudley Warner.
Anyways, now that we are adults and get presents for all family members… I was struggling to get something appropriate/thoughtful/not wasteful for every couple, and it was tough.
And then, this exact chain of events occurred in early December:
-We received our quarterly shipment of our favorite wine from Laird (of which I have raved about before here…)
-Thought… a bottle of Laird would be a GREAT gift since we love it so much. I know it doesn’t sound like a unique idea, but to me – I rarely give wine as a gift (unless we are talking housewarming, hostess gift, etc.) because it does not usually fit the thoughtful bill. However, we love this wine, it is special to us, and we personally love discovering a great wine to add to our go-to repertoire – so if I got this as a gift, I would be thrilled! Their Napa Valley Cab is where it is at! It is our anniversary wine, date night wine, in home wine, I mean – we are basically a Laird cellar over here. It’s a little ridiculous, but once you find something great, it’s hard to stray!
-After this thought, I shot an e-mail to Laird to figure out logistics and… BOOM. Ordered up some wine.
Present compilation coming to life…
-I was going to give everyone a Cab since that is our main jam, BUT as people who do not enjoy white wine on the regular or basically ever (that’s us)… this winery’s Chardonnay is the only one we like and therefore thought it should be shared with the world.
–Cards Against Humanity (game similar to a saucy Apples to Apples) was hitting the mainstream hard and became super hard to obtain. Waiting lists, the whole nine yards. We have this game ourselves and have been the weird couple who have brought it to a party… had a few weird looks but then all of a sudden, someone wants to play and…. BOOM, instaentertainment. So I thought this would be a good addition if we could get our hands on the game. Got on the waitlist, and was able to get them in time. WIN!
THEN…. this guy came to mind, and basically formulated the tone of the gift:
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!
Here’s a quick pic of the apps from the Pyramid Tasting @ Laird:
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 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!
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