Earlier this month, my wife and I threw our 5th annual McAdams Wine Party. The first couple of years of the party were kind of forming what has become the party now, with varying success then.
I’d been told that wine parties are supposed to have 8 or fewer people, but we’ve found we prefer more than that. Last year, we had the most so far, with about 18 people. We had 3 tables, and it was a lot of fun. This year, we have fewer people due to schedules and others not able to make it at the last minute. I think we ended up with 12 people this year.
Our theme changes every year, and this year’s theme was Italian wines. The way it works is that each couple brings one red and one white wine that fits the theme.
I did the food, which is the way I like doing it; it’s a time for me to have fun cooking for a party with our guests just bringing along wines. The food, which I’ll talk about more in other entries, was Italian based, with several pastas, caprese salad, Italian bread and cheeses. The wines ranged from mostly Pinot Grigio in whites to a mix of reds.
The way we do the party generally is to eat first (a supposed no-no in wine parties), then we settle down and start opening up white wines, then move on to the reds. The person that brought the wine is supposed to have a little something to say about the wine, whether it’s the vineyard, the grape, the region, whatever. Then we pass the wine around to pour ourselves a bit.
Everyone has a scoresheet to score the wines, though this is more just for noting which wines you like the most or the least. We’re not pretentious about the tasting, though I try to explain the basics of color, bouquet, etc. The main thing is, though, if you like the wine or not.
The Pinot Grigios were predictable, but we also had a couple Moscatos that we had after the reds were done, since they’re dessert wines. The one white that stood out was a Moscato d’Asti, which has a slight bit of carbonation to it. I don’t generally like sweet whites, but this was really nice.
With the reds, the expected Chianti Classicos were there, which are good, solid reds. We also had a nice Sicilian red, but the one wine that kind of stole the night was a Marco Negi, which was so dark it was almost black (as the name implies). This really was a nice drinking wine, and I’ll be looking for more of it to have around.
We figured out why we enjoy throwing this party so much. I like to cook for people, so I get to do that, with a variety of dishes. My wife likes to give gifts, and we incorporate that, too. Through the year, we pick up wine related gifts we find, typically under $10 each, and keep them around. Then, after the wines have all been tasted and we’re drinking the ones we most liked, I come up with ways to let people choose gifts. This is anywhere from the best white or red, or the worst, to who drove the farthest to get to the party, or whatever I can come up with so that each couple gets 2 choices for gifts.
This year, we had a gift for each couple, and an envelope for each couple. The envelopes had coupons to be redeemed for things I will cook for the coupon holders, either a dinner with us, a dozen chocolate chip cookies, fleur de sel caramels, barbecue of their choice or artisan bread. No one has redeemed their coupon yet, but we’ll see if they remember to!
So there’s another year, another party. We really enjoy the night, and I’m already looking forward to next year’s party, trying to come up with the theme and what foods to cook with it. If you’ve thought about doing a wine tasting party, don’t be intimidated… it doesn’t have to be overdone for everyone to enjoy it. The key is to open up your home to your friends.