Throwing a Wined Up Dinner Party: A few tips on entertaining during the holidays

With the holidays fast approaching, the last thing you’re probably thinking about is what wine to serve. But I’m here to tell you it’s time to prioritize your wine this holiday season. So here are a few tips on entertaining during the holidays from The Italian Cellar.

Pairing Perfection- When deciding the foods to pair with your wines, consider the big three: overall acidity, flavor, and sweetness. At my Christmas get-togethers, I always start the evening with something similar to an aperitivo hour. Loads of amazing cheeses, cured meats, even some tasty little bites traditionally served in larger portions. 

I know that you’re probably thinking: “If I throw enough stuff at my guests, won’t they all find something that goes well together?” And that’s exactly the point! Personal preferences help gravitate you to what you enjoy. For example, I love bold red wines with layers of flavor and smells that dance on the tip of your taste buds. When I have my big glass of wine in front of me, I gravitate to the cured meats and pungent cheeses.

Shopping for bottles & finding a wine merchant you trust- Keep it simple! Buy wine by the case so you don’t complicate things with too many options--otherwise you’ll end up with half finished bottles from guests who want to taste everything. 

For a basic holiday party, I tend to choose 4 types of wine:

    1. A light white wine with plenty of flavor and light fruit touches--something like a Gavi di Gavi
    2. A versatile red with deep flavors like a Montepuliciano d'Abruzzo  
    3. A bolder red wine that is more complex with bolder flavors like a Barbaresco  or Chianti Classico
    4. No party is complete without some bubbles, so why not add a Prosecco or a Moscato d'Asti   

Relax- Although it’s easier said than done, make a to-do list and check it twice!  More importantly, give yourself some time before your guests arrive to relax with a glass of wine and some good tunes.  I may be running around like a mad man, but before any party I typically set an alarm for an hour before guests are expected to arrive and head upstairs to my bedroom with a bottle of our Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Riserva by Illuminati, to relax and get ready at an easy pace.  

Lighting sets the mood- After getting yourself in the mood for a fun evening with friends, light some candles or start a fire.  Whatever you have to do to turn off any harsh overhead lighting. There is nothing that creates a cozy atmosphere more than some crackling embers in the fireplace or some flickering candles on the table.  

Don’t stress over dessert- A wine-loving crowd will go back to enjoy your meat and cheese board to finish.  If you want to add a dash of sweetness that won’t be too much hassle, add a few small pastries or some Italian cookies in little bags for your guests to snack on or take with them. 

1 comment

This some very sound advice. I always pop some Prosecco to enjoy alone before guests arrive. Calms my nerves about my need for everything to be perfect!
PS- I love Gavi di Gavi!

Anna Maria Kambourakis March 23, 2021

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