Not a wine tasting party!

I hosted a wine party, but it was not a wine-tasting party. I just wanted to gather friends, old and new! A great way to keep a party a little more simple than a cocktail party is to just serve wine. I am always looking for a theme idea for a party, and this one seemed perfect! This is the first party of this kind I have hosted in my home since the year of the flood and with a new kitchen! In some ways this kind of a party is easier than a dinner party!

The wine bottle invitations were hand delivered a month in advance. You can see all of the details on how I created these invitations here.

I had hoped to use both indoors and outdoors for the party, but the weather was threatening. I set up all of the food on my very large tavern room table. I used burlap fabric for my tablecloth and wooden crates to display the food at different heights.

In addition to the wooden crates that are suggestive of wine crates, I added clusters of artificial grapes and grape vines around and above the tabletop. I found this unique tea towel that was just perfect for the party and hung it on the largest crate. Over a couple of months I collected bottles from different wines and filled them with these cork fairy lights. As night fell, the table took on a magical glow! Using wine bottles as decoration is so easy! If you don’t drink that much wine, take a tip from me and ask a local restaurant to save some bottles for you!

The best way to serve up the white wines and the rosé wines was to keep them in ice in a large silver bowl on the bar top. The red wine was sitting nearby. Before the rain began, I also had a bottle of each wine on a table outdoors poolside. An easy way to host a party like this is to make sure each guest is served their first glass of wine and then to let them help themselves after that.

You know your guest list better than I do, but you do need to calculate how much wine you will need and what types of wines you will want to serve. These varieties of wine are what I served, a pinot grigio, a chardonnay, a rose, a cabernet sauvignon and a pinot noir, all from different producers. For 40 guests I got twelve bottles of each of these. If you need guidance on what wines to buy, you may ask a wine expert or find a good wine store with someone knowledgeable about wine. A good rule of thumb is one bottle of wine for two people for every two hours of your event.

Guests had a wonderful time, both meeting new neighbors and connecting with old friends! I had always been opposed to stemless wine glasses because they aren’t as pretty when I am styling a tablescape, but for this kind of a party, I decided they were the best option. You may be able to rent glasses, but I know I will be hosting these kind of parties again in the future, so I went ahead and bought these pretty stemless wine glasses.

The party was held from 6:00 to 10:00 so I made sure the food pairings were ample to serve as dinner for my guests. An ice bowl held cocktail shrimp. Finger foods are easiest for your guests, but I did include a couple of more substantial dishes that required just a fork.

A charcuterie board offered up meats and cheeses. Brie was warmed in the oven in a small cast iron skillet which made it creamy and easy to spread on crackers. Notice I styled my cheese board with grapes in the shape of a wine bottle.

Bow tie pasta with alfredo sauce and green peas was kept warm in a chafing dish.

Mushroom stuffed with sausage and parmesan cheese were a big hit along with another chafing dish, this one filled with sweet and sour meatballs. Here is the recipe for my stuffed mushrooms!

Accompanied by slices of pita bread and crackers was a plate of hummus topped with minced garlic and a balsamic reduction.

Before the end of the night, I served up desserts! I wanted to keep with the wine theme and with some help from my sister, transformed a store bought cake into a cake with a cluster of chocolate “grapes” and chocolate grape leaves on it!

Keeping with my finger foods theme, I also offered brownie bites filled with buttercream frosting!

Is hosting a party for forty people is a lot of work, particularly if you prepare all of the food yourself, as I did for this party. So, what are my plans for the next party? My dad will be turning 95 in August and I know I am mulling over different ways to celebrate that. After that, I am thinking a Christmas open house. Whatever it is, I assure you that I will be sharing all of the details as these things happen!

Shop my wine party:

Libby hammered stemless wine glasses
Stainless steel chafing dish (I am going to be upgrading to these!)
Wine bottle corks with fairy lights

Tips for hosting a wine tasting:

If you REALLY want to host a “wine tasting”, not just a party where you are serving wine like I did, there are lots of things to keep in mind. I have found that home wine tasting parties don’t always go over well. Some guests just want to drink the wine that they like and are not adventurous in their palette (I would fall in that category!). Small groups of wine lovers would be more inclined to enjoy a wine tasting event. You would want to have a wine connoisseur on hand to guide you into what kind of wines to buy and how many bottles of each to have on hand.

You might want to have a wine tasting theme such as new wines or wines from different regions or a wine tasting based on a price point. Whichever you decide, I know your guests will enjoy!

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