Food and wine pairing is not something I was always great at, or even worried about. Truth be told, I really became the most educated after I started with ONEHOPE Wine. I have always been a huge foodie, meaning I love to try new foods and places, not neccisarily meaning I had/have a sophisticated palate. The key is time, and repetitiveness. Practice makes… better right?!? (We don’t do “perfect” here at B:)
Over time and the more I cook and bake, the more I understand food and flavors. When I wine into the equation, there becomes an even more complicated equation that always leads to a complex and exquisite outcome. Food, wine, and the last step is decor; all together they create a mood, flow, and your ambiance. Cohesiveness in your menu and presentation is key to hosting your next event if you plan to set a particular mood. Even the simple placement of food, can force more or less mingling of your guests. Paying attention to the details is important and quite frankly the best part! So the next time you invite your friends over, in order to take a step up from your last gathering, the secret is in the little things. If you are serving pasta and Italian wine, well you want the two flavors to compliment each other. Further more, if you are looking for a romanticized evening, you may want to add some fresh greens and tea lights to your table to give the feeling that you are in a backyard garden in Italy, just sitting down for dinner with your loved one. It’s all in the details!
Here’s something fun to try with a recipe I recently made for my family and I.
1. Pick the menu. For example here, we are doing a summer vegetable soup… since it’s summer 🙂 That part is simple enough! Be sure that you invite your guests for a late dinner or chose a day early/late in summer so it’s not too hot. No one will enjoy a steaming bowl of soup on your patio in 80 degree weather 😉
2. Pair the wine. For this summer soup, I chose the ONEHOPE Italian Presecco . This has crisp bubbles against the creamy soup and the apple notes go so well with the mild vegetables. The key here is to try the wine first and know your flavors. All of the ONEHOPE varietals will give you pairing suggestions online, so you can use that as a guide as well. You are looking for flavors that will compliment your main course. Where both the wine and food bring out the best in each other. The best piece of advice I’ve heard so far, is that at the end of the day, if you think it tastes good together then it’s a great pairing.
I’ll post a blog specifically about pairing another time, for now here are a few tips:
– There is such a thing as too sweet. If your wine is super sweet, you can match the flavors (like berries) if you would like to but not the sugar content! Creamy mild cheeses are also great to compliment sweet wines.
– If a wine is extra dry (the feeling that someone sucked the moisture off of your tongue) try pairing with something fatty and/or salty to smooth out that sensation.
– Spicy foods are complimented by sweet wines like Gewurztraminer and Muscat Canelli.
3. Set the mood. For an evening with Presecco and Summer Vegetable Soup, I might plan something more casual. 3 or 4 girlfriends over after the kids go to bed and we all know none of us has eaten. We’re starving but not looking to put down heavy pasta and red wine at 8pm tonight. It’s starting to cool down as people arrive, the perfect temp for hot soup. I’ll probably set a bread basket on the table, as well as a wine chiller and glasses and then inside I’ll have some cookies or berries plated for something sweet to bring out after dinner. We’ll serve the soup in the home as people arrive and carry them out to relax outside. Keep it simple, if relaxation is your goal. Or at least simple for your guests ;). You may have put a lot of work into picking the soup bowls and setting the tables but no one need to know that right?!?!
– Things for comfort are important to remember. TIKI torches are not just for ambiance, they deter bugs. If there is a large group, be sure that there are lots of places to “place plates” or that the food on the plates is easy and doesn’t involve cutting.
– #1 rule of thumb – people always congregate around the food.
– Ask yourself questions like, what is the purpose for the event (baby shower, birthday, brunch, happy hour) Will people be eating a lot, is food the main event? Where do you want people to gather? How many people will be joining you? Is there a theme to the food and wine?
4. Decor. This one is my favorite parts although not neccisary. Anything to make a place feel comfortable and relaxing is the name of my game. It takes time to collect and decorate your space as you want it so give yourself a break. Unless you have a money tree, and if so I need a seed 🙂 Things like using a soup bowl vs your every day cereal bowl or taco trays instead of a plate (then the tacos don’t fall apart). Maybe you use plastic plates for your patio to create a more laid back environment. Plus if anything is broken, you’re not so upset. Flowers on the table, pots around your patio, and throw pillows are all part of the details that make a place comfortable. The tip here is the same as wine – it’s your preference. Create your spaces to fit you, that feel good to you. Don’t try to recreate something you’ve seen on Pinterest, just because you saw it on Pinterest. Use outside sources for inspiration but when you are out shopping, if something catches your eye, it’s probably your style. Get it. This one took me a long time to remember but my home has become even more of a haven since I’ve taken that advice to heart.
So there you have it, a nice and easy night in for you and your guests. I would LOVE to hear about your last gathering that you planned. I’m always looking for inspiration from others! If you want help with your next event, please send a message. I can help with anything from brainstorming to actually co hosting a ONEHOPE Wine Tasting gathering in your home. I love what I do and I want to share it with you too.
I’ll leave you with some advice I have to tell myself on the daily. You are not perfect, and neither is anyone else. The gathering that you put together for others, may not look like Martha Stewart stopped by (mind you she has had YEARS of practice and has a team), but it will be beautiful. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Oddly enough, planning is key and then once it’s in place, don’t over think anything, you lose out on the fun of what you are doing if you do.
B : you
- 1 bag of baby carrots chopped
- 2 cups of red potatoes chopped
- 2 tablespoons of butter - Vegan butter works well too
- ½ cup of yellow onion chopped
- 1 tablespoon of garlic
- 1 medium zucchini
- 1 32 oz can of diced tomatoes with juice
- 1 can of sweet whole kernel corn - drained
- 1 can of evaporated milk
- 10 - 15 leaves of fresh basil
- ½ tablespoon of poultry seasoning
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ½ tablespoon of parsley
- 1 teaspoon of clove
- 14 oz of vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoons of cornstarch
- Diced ham is optional
- Brown butter in 6 QT Cast Iron Dutch Oven - If you don’t have one, it’s a must - Med. heat
- Add garlic, potatoes, carrots, and onion - Cook until onions are translucent
- Add vegetable broth, cover and cook until potatoes are soft (can be pierced with a fork)
- Add zucchini, tomatoes, corn, basil, and seasoning - Bring to a boil
- Reduce heat and stir in ¾ can of evaporated milk
- Mix cornstarch and remaining milk - add last with additional salt and pepper to taste
- Simmer for 10 minutes
- Garnish with fresh basil leaves
- Serve with buttered rolls - Cooked diced ham can be added last for all of you meat lovers out there