We're big fans of themed wine parties.
It's a fun and easy way to enjoy some good wine with friends without getting too fussy or pretentious. The formula is pretty straightforward.
- Pick a wine theme, such as Bordeaux-style blends or Zinfandel.
- Pair the wine with a tasty meal. We cheat and use this awesome guide.
- Invite some friends over. We prefer a small group of six to eight.
- Serve the wine blind.
- Sip, swirl, chew, and discuss.
The theme for our latest wine party was Cabernet Sauvignon. Like our last "Call Me a Cab" party, we served up several Cabs that we picked up on our travels. Each had its own interesting story.
2010 Raymond Burr. We visited the now-defunct winery in northern Sonoma County a few years ago. Yes, the winery was founded by its namesake, the actor Raymond Burr who is probably best known for playing Perry Mason in the television series by the same name. A friend recommended we go there (why else?) so we stopped by as we were passing through town. The wine was excellent and we were saddened to learn the winery is now gone.
2010 The Label. A 2013 trip to Paso Robles brought us to Turley Wine Cellars, a winery famous for its Zinfandel. Unfortunately, we caught them between vintages and most of their good stuff was sold out. They only had a few selections available for tasting that were all so-so until our host invited us to try some Cabernet Sauvignon called The Label that was a bit of the side project. Wow, it was good! They were selling magnums for the price of a regular 750ml bottle, so we said, "Yes, please!"
2010 Cade Howell Mountain. This sister winery to the famous PlumpJack is becoming well-known in it's own right. We've visited a couple of times and have enjoyed their beautiful views overlooking Napa Valley and their incredible wine.
Do your guests arrive in the same car?
Ours don't. People spill in at different times, but it would be impolite to keep people's palates dry while we wait for the whole crew to assemble. We usually like to start people off with a bit of white wine, such as a 2014 Cuvaison Sauvignon Blanc.
We like to start with a cheese course.
I wish I could tell you we were cheese geniuses. We're not. I mean, we took a wine and cheese pairing class once, but that's about as far as it goes. That's why we take the guesswork out of the whole process and trust the folks down at Venissimo Cheese to help us find a few selections to go with our theme.
Dinner ideas come from What to Drink with What You Eat. You really can't go wrong with that awesome guide. The book suggested steak would go well with Cabernet Sauvignon.
Don't over think things, right?
We keep the wines' identities secret until we've all had a chance to enjoy them with the meal. We do ask a few just for fun questions:
- Which wine do you think is the oldest (or youngest)?
- Where do you think the wine is from?
- Which wine goes best with the cheese? With the meal? On it's own?
Finally, we ask our guests to vote on their favorites and then we reveal the selections.
The winner this time was the 2010 Raymond Burr. Alas, we drained our inventory that night and the winery is no more.
It would be a sad party that ended right after the wines were revealed! There's always a call for a third bottle or two.
This time, we shared a Cabernet Sauvignon Port that we picked up at Elyse Winery in Napa few years ago along with a Kaiken Cabernet Sauvignon from Argentina's Mendoza region that we picked up on the cheap from San Diego Wine Company.