Saturday, October 31, 2009

"Entertaining with Wine" Class

Monica teaches “Wine Appreciation 101” classes in the East Bay cities of Walnut Creek, Lafayette and Pleasant Hill. ( We have been friends since college and I frequently assist her with the classes approximately once a quarter by pouring wines, preparing the food and answering questions during the classes.

Monica began her wine career over 20 years ago by running the marketing department of her family’s winery, Stony Ridge in the Livermore Valley. She worked as a wine buyer for Cost Plus World Market for about five years and then took a leap into the dot com world by joining as a buyer and manager of the wine clubs. Currently she is a busy Mom who loves to share her knowledge of wine with folks and teaches classes in Walnut Creek, Pleasant Hill and Lafayette. She writes a monthly wine column for the Lafayette Today and Alamo Today Newspapers and is a regular contributor to Walnut Creek Magazine.

She recently hosted a class (October 29th) “Entertaining with Wine” in Walnut Creek and she asked me to speak and share my entertaining tips with the class. We had an intimate class of eight students, which in turn gave everyone the opportunity to ask questions and interact. Monica chose six wines to evaluate and learn about the flavors and varietals. It is important to evaluate each of the wines by: sight, smell and taste. Tasting Note sheets are provided which enable each student to detail the brand name, varietal, vintage date, appellation, sight, smell, taste and overall impressions.

The wines selected for “Entertaining with Wine” were:
  • Zonin Prosecco – NV Italian Sparkling Wine
  • Santa Cristina Antinori – 2008 Pinot Gris, Sicilia
  • Kim Crawford – 2008 Marlborough – Sauvignon Blanc
  • Clos Du Bois – 2006 Pinot Noir, North Coast
  • Montes Classic Series – 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Chile
  • Flore de Moscato – 2008 California Muscat Wine

The food selections for the class were done appetizers style and would be perfect for entertaining and to pair with the wine selections chosen for the class.
  • Prosciutto wrapped bread sticks
  • Lemon – herbed goat cheese, endive leaves with pear and walnut
  • Rosemary scented polenta cups with gorgonzola and pine nuts
  • Crostini with roast beef and chimichurri Sauce
  • Cracker topped with manchego cheese, quince paste and marcona almonds
  • Toasted pita chip with shrimp and mango salsa

Ten Authentic Suburban Gourmet’s Entertaining Tips:
  • Determine date, location, venue, number of guests and type of invitations (paper or Evite)
  • Holidays can get filled up fast with parties all falling on the same days – think about having an Open House, so that if multiple parties are planned, your guests will be able to attend since it is more of a flexible event.
  • Balance the appetizers between hot and cold along with mixing up the flavor profiles to make it interesting. Think about meats, cheeses, seafood, crunchy, spicy and vegetarian.
  • Clean your house two days before the event and touch up the guest bathroom the day of the event. Purchase paper guest towels and have your favorite candle burning. Put a new roll of toilet paper on the roll.
  • YOU! Take your shower and get ready at least two hours prior to the event starting. You will be relaxed and able to finish your preparations and welcome your guests.
  • “People eat with their eyes first” – Food should have “negative” or empty space around it. Use over sized platters and be careful not to overcrowd.
  • Place cards – If you are having more than 6 people for dinner, mix up the seating arrangements to encourage conversation.
  • Set your cheeses out 30 minutes prior to your guests arriving. The flavors will peak at room temperature.
  • Signature drink – Serve one signature drink at your event and then supplement with wine, beer, bottled water and sodas.
If you would like to learn more about wine, I would encourage you to sign up for a “Wine Appreciation 101” class with Monica. Please visit her blog to learn about the classes and read great articles about wine.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for posting this. I can't believe I lived in San Francisco all of my life and I learned nothing about wine, now that I've moved to Dallas, I stumble across your blog!


    I need to keep this class in mind next time I come out for a visit.


It simply makes me smile when I receive a new comment and I look forward to hearing from you!