How to host a dinner party with your good wine

If you are a wine enthusiast, you probably have a few bottles you are only willing to share with friends who will really appreciate it. A dinner party is a great way to open a few good bottles, do a tasting, and have a great dinner to go with it.

Here’s how we like to do it.

Step 1: Pick a theme
A theme can create a bit of fun anticipation and give your party some focus. Last weekend, we hosted a “Que Syrah Syrah” party because had some terrific Syrahs we wanted to share. (Last year, we hosted a similar “Pinot Palooza” party.)

Step 2: Invite some friends who love wine
We prefer to keep the total to eight. A group this size is large enough to stimulate a lot of conversation, but small enough to comfortably fit around our dining table. We invited three other couples to Que Syrah Syrah that we knew would enjoy the wine and would mix well with each other.

Step 3: Select your bottles
We selected bottles we had purchased at wineries in 2010. This provided two advantages. First, we didn’t have to buy any extra wine for our tasting. Second, we could talk about our experiences tasting each one. Stories generally make wine taste even better.

Our Que Syrah Syrah menu:

Starter Wine
2006 Wattle Creek Triple Play (Syrah blend)

Wines for Blind Tasting & Dinner
2007 Wattle Creek Shiraz
2007 Cuvaison Diablo Syrah
2006 Domaine Serene Rockblock Reserve Syrah

Step 4: Create your menu
Sticking with one varietal makes it a little easier to come up with a menu that pairs well with the wine. Don’t worry if you aren't a wine pairing pro. Pick up a copy of What to Drink with What You Eat and you’ll always be right on the money. Que Syrah Syrah featured food that was perfect with Syrah.

Stuffed mushrooms
Gouda and Dubliner cheeses

Main Course
Marinated flank steak
Whipped potatoes and parsnips
White corn and zucchini fritters
Grilled eggplant

Dark chocolate brownies with white chocolate shavings, raspberries, and whipped cream

Step 5: Set up a blind tasting
We like to do a blind tasting so we can discuss the wine and have a little fun. We were blind tasting three bottles, so each person was served in three glasses. The wine was poured from carafes to prevent our guests from seeing the bottles.

Informal works best for us. We like to sip each of the wines, discuss them with our friends, and ask everyone to pick their favorite. The wines are then revealed after a winner emerges.

Dinner is served once the wines are revealed. Our friends are free to pour themselves a glass of whichever wine they prefer.

Our Que Syrah Syrah winner
The ’07 Cuvaison Diablo took the Que Syrah Syrah title. It was silky smooth with a rich, earthy flavor that was outstanding by itself and paired well with our food.

The other two wines were no slouches, and each got at least one first place vote. Several of our friends noted the '07 Wattle Creek complimented the food very nicely while others appreciated the '06 Domaine Serene Rockblock's delicate flavors.

Posted on May 23, 2011 and filed under Tasting Experiences.