How To Host A Wine-Tasting Party

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My co-worker Melissa and I share an office. And a birthday. And a mutual love for pouring a glass of wine after work and slumping deep into the couch cushions to watch Netflix. We were destined to be birthday twins, truly.

We also have a lot of the same friends because we’ve worked at two of the same companies together now and have formed relationships with a lot of the same people. So when we were sitting there one Wednesday afternoon in our office trying to decide what each of us should do for our birthdays, we came to the conclusion to decide that we would host a joint birthday party together. A wine-tasting party. And after successfully hosting the party, I am now sharing the best tips to perfectly plan one for yourself.

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Set A Schedule: It’s a well-known fact that if you start a party at 7PM, nobody will arrive until 7:30 or 7:45 (at the earliest). And that’s being generous. Send out a tasting schedule beforehand to ensure everyone arrives on time; nobody will want to miss a second! We did hour-long tastings for each wine category, and it worked great. Once the hour was up, we brought out the next type of wine! However, I did morph into Cruella De Ville because my friend wanted to open a bottle of red wine at 5:30PM, and I told him that we were still in Rosé hour. The rules are strict, folks!

Have Everyone Bring A Bottle Of Wine To Share: Wine is not cheap, especially if you’re catering for 20 or more people! You’re already providing all of the food and appetizers and it might run you bankrupt to buy 15+ bottles of wine on top of that. Have your guests bring their favorite bottle of wine, and when they arrive they can fill out a card sharing what they love about it (tasting notes, how they discovered it, what it pairs well with, etc!)

Provide An Activity For The Guests: One thing I’ve learned after attending enough parties over the years is that if there’s no activity for guests to do, they will make one. And for a crowd in their mid-twenties, it will usually involve alcohol games. Melissa and I wanted to ensure that our guests would be properly entertained throughout the night. Conveniently, our party was the same night as the Golden Globes, so we streamed that during the party and everyone was glued to the screen and sipping away!

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Cheese Board: Truly, there are few things I love more than I love cheese boards. My family and I were in Italy this past Summer in a tiny town called Panicale, and we had a cheese board with literally every meal. It was glorious. Have a cheese board out for the whole night; each wine pairs well with different items on the board! Tip: Don’t put all the fixin’s out at once – leave a stash in your fridge so that you can refresh the board as the night goes on.

Have Appetizers As Well: A glass a wine in itself doesn’t have a ton of alcohol in it, but if your guests are refilling their glasses all night.. it adds up. Make sure you have real food in addition to your cheese plate so that your guests have some protein; a cheese board can only do so much! Melissa and I had Pigs In A Blanket, Flatbread, and a couple other appetizers that we got at Trader Joe’s.

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We had so much fun and it truly was a the best way to celebrate our birthdays with all of our friends around us. Here’s to full glasses, full lives, and lots of wine! Have you ever had a themed birthday party? Let me know in the comments!

 

Healthy (kinda) Cookbooks

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If you know me at all, you know that I’m not really a healthy eater. I don’t diet, I bake cookies at least once a week, have a glass of wine with dinner more times than not, and love a good stack of blueberry pancakes. I’m not a big eater though overall, and I do cardio exercise so it’s never been a problem with my weight or otherwise.

But earlier this week, my body basically told me (excuse my language) that I need to get my sh*t together. Cue: Driving down the 101 freeway in Los Angeles, in the middle of rush-hour traffic, puking while driving from food poisoning (I will not delve into the exact details of this, for the sake of the breakfast you’re probably eating right now). That day, I had coffee for breakfast, German sausages for lunch, and a brownie. Pretty sure it was food poisoning from the sausage, but it was also that my body had basically no nutrients in it and was sending a cry for help. Since then, I’ve put myself on a vegetable-driven diet with no alcohol, sugar, or caffeine and my body feels great.

If you’re looking to incorporate more nutrient-dense meals into your rotation this year, these are my recommendations:

Healthyish: Truth be told, I follow Lindsay on Instagram and just really love her feed. So, thanks to my pal Amazon Prime, it’s now sitting on my coffee table. I’m really excited to dive into it because it has a lot of grain bowl recipes and approachable dinner meals.

The Forest Feast: I actually found this cookbook in an olive oil shop. Don’t ask me why I was in an olive oil shop… (Side note: If you’re ever in downtown Los Gatos, We Olive is a must visit.) The book itself is beautiful, and the recipes are so simple that you’ll basically want to make everything and then move to a cottage in the woods like Erin.

Southern Girl Meets Vegetarian Boy: Going vegetarian isn’t an overnight endeavor, especially if you’re going to do it right and not just eat brocolli for dinner for the rest of your life. This book combines both vegetarian meals and non-vegetarian meals; it’s a mix of both.

Clean Slate: I’ve been following a no-sugar, no-alcohol, no-caffeine diet for the past week and my body feels so good. What we eat can really transform our body, and that’s precisely what this book is out to accomplish. There’s so many good, nutritional recipes included. I personally can’t wait to try the farro and roasted sweet potato salad. Y-U-M.

Love Real Food: My mom is a vegetarian and I got her this cookbook for Christmas this year! She and my brother have been trying recipes from it over the past few weeks and I’ve heard nothing but glowing reviews! What I love is that it makes cooking vegetarian SO easy – the recipes are approachable and don’t require a lot of weird ingredients.

The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook: This is basically the bible for vegetarian recipes. It’s massive and it has EVERYTHING. You can count on America’s Test Kitchen to produce quality recipes that anyone can do. Highly recommend this if vegetarian dishes are a staple in your life.

The Laura Lea Balanced Cookbook: We’re not perfect. Sometimes we need to sit on the couch, binge-watch The Crown on Netflix with a full plate of chocolate chip cookies at hand. I get it. You’re only human. Laura’s cookbook has so many great recipes, but they’re not all carrots and squash.

What healthy cookbooks take up real estate in your kitchen?