Each month, I send out a VinNote Newsletter to all my wine-loving friends and connections. The December edition has a great article on entertaining - wine country style. I thought you might enjoy these great tips:
In Wine Country, we like to keep holiday entertaining easy, casual and fun. No standing on ceremony, but plenty of celebration. Here are just a few ideas and tips on making your holiday entertaining a joy rather than a chore.
In Wine Country, surrounded by nature’s bounty, it is easy to think fresh. But bringing freshness to the table can be as near as your favorite supermarket. Whether it's fresh fruit from the local market or a bumper crop of your own zucchinis, bring whatever is fresh to the table and enjoy. It is more important to have a delicious tomato than a three-tiered cake!
Fresh also makes for beautiful centerpieces and special touches. Here in Wine Country one might see a simple grapevine as a napkin holder. The same can be done in your home with fresh cut ivy or a sprig of lavendar. Try sunflowers on the table, clusters of grapes and loaves of homemade bread, artfully arranged. By adding candles you can turn up the wattage and the glamour.
Invent and Innovate:
Wine Country home cooks use what is in their gardens to decorate their tables. You can do the same! Create your own organic still life and your own signature style. Vegetable centerpieces can be a sensation: cabbages, turnips, asparagus. Think big! Do simple, unexpected things.
Set your entertaining budget, but don’t skimp on three important ingredients: music, wine and stemware. Download your favorite holiday tunes or hire an excellent student musician. Serve beautiful wines in beautiful stems and you’ve totally upgraded the evening to A-list.
Need some simple place cards? Use wine corks by slipping a place card (or the name of a cheese for your cheese board) into a slit in the cork. Or, write the name on the cork with flair. Need a simple, innovative dessert? Everyone craves a little sweet at the end of a meal. In Wine Country, dessert can be one freshly picked peach and a homemade cookie. Whatever you choose, keep it simple. Add the last perfect touch by filling a flute with fresh berries and pouring sparkling wine over the top!
When most of us think of Wine Country, we see mile long tables made of oak, in the middle of a vineyard; the afternoon sun glittering on crystal stems filled to the brim with red and white wines. But, most Wine Country home cooks stand by the buffet as the easiest way to entertain.
You can begin your buffet evening with a simple wine and cheese bar. Set out white wines, red wines and sparkling wines and let guests help themselves. Offer cheeses that pair well to your wine offerings and you’ve set the stage for a fabulous evening.
Celebrate at Your Own Party:
If you are in the kitchen working, you are ruining your own party. Make things ahead with just a little last minute assembly. That way you can be the guest, too.
Sparkling Holiday Punch
2 cups sparkling wine
1 cup pomegranate juice
1 cup seltzer
1/2 cup citrus vodka (optional)
Lemon twists, for garnish
Combine sparkling wine, pomegranate juice, seltzer and vodka in a large bowl or pitcher. Serve over ice with a twist of lemon.
Per serving: 128 calories; 0 g fat (0 g sat, 0 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 7 g carbohydrates; 0 g protein; 0 g fiber; 5 mg sodium; 72 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Antioxidants.