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Wine Cellar Inspirations: Ideas For A Wine-Themed Christmas Party

December 5th, 2018

What better way to celebrate the Christmas holidays than hosting a wine-themed party? If your family and friends are certified winos like yourself, this is definitely the direction to take. So we’ve put together some fresh ideas on throwing a really memorable holiday party:

Make it a memorable wine-themed Christmas party!

Throw a winter wonderland wine party…

This is a really fun concept that a lot of your guests will surely enjoy. Sure, the “ber” months can be horribly cold, but don’t let that dampen the mood. In fact, you can use it to make your holiday party more enjoyable. Let’s start with the decor. Go all out and all-white! Change your drapes, tablecloth, and throw pillow covers into snowy white ones. Put white tea light candles in glass containers in strategic corners in your home. Add some dashes of silver by incorporating tinsel and silverware into your table setting. Next, bring out some white wine and champagne. Complement the drinks with “white” hors d’oeuvres, like Asiago cheese, Camembert, and white chocolate.

Try a DIY-cocktail [party!

Try hosting a holiday “mystery party”…

Mystery parties are all the rage. But instead of a murder or haunted theme, go for a positive one to raise the holiday spirits. And what better way to do it than having a “mystery wine” party! Wrap some mystery packages and put them on a table. Set up clues for each one. You can have your guests work in pairs or groups. The goal is to work out the clue and match it with the correct package. Each one will lead to another, with the last package being the mystery wine. Prepare a prize for the winner and be creative with it as well. It doesn’t have to be expensive at all!

Turn it into a “DIY cocktail” Christmas party…

Here’s something really fun and interactive. You can host a DIY cocktail party for Christmas for your family and friends. Naturally, you have to make sure that everyone is of legal drinking age. You can request your guests to bring a bottle (or bottles) of their favorite wines (and other liquor/beverages). Set up a mini bar in your dining area or other part of the house you might see fit. Don’t forget to augment the drinks with “extras” like fruit juices, cream, sliced lime, lemons, or other fruits. Print out easy cocktail recipes for your guests to try out. You can also have mocktail options for the non-drinkers. Of course, it goes without saying that everything should be done in moderation. ^_^

Wine Cellar Inspirations: Hosting A Spooktacular Halloween Wine Party

October 24th, 2018

A wine tasting party for All Hallows Eve? We’re definitely saying yes to that! But how do you host a fun and memorable wine tasting party amidst all those other Halloween parties? Well, for one thing, it’s not a competition. So focus not on impressing your guests but on how to give them an enjoyable experience. Here are some tips to hosting a spooktacular one:

Host a spooktacular Halloween wine party!

Plan it out with your family or friends

If you’re married, or you have a family, or you live with roommates, it’s always a good idea to sit down together and plan things out. That way, you will be able to pool all your ideas and come up with the best party plan. It’s especially so if there will be quite a bit of age variety with your guests. For example, if you’re hosting a family-based party, where will you put the kids while the adults do the wine tasting? How will you keep them entertained? If it’s a strictly adult affair, how will you accommodate the non-drinkers? And how about those experiencing wine tasting for the very first time? With others contributing valuable input, your party will definitely be an awesome one.

Decide on a theme carry it out well

Obviously, it’s going to be a Halloween-themed party. But narrowing it down to something more specific will make things go more smoothly. It will help you decide on the best menu for both the wine and food. You will also be able to choose the most appropriate decor, as well as invitations. Moreover, it will give your guests a better guide on how they should dress up for your party. They key to deciding on a theme is to consider your resources and that of your guests as well. Do not go for anything elaborate if either you or your guests will not be able to meet it.

Plan your food and wine menu ahead of time!

Follow a solid timeline for your party

Time is always an indispensable factor to the success of any party. It doesn’t matter if it’s a formal or informal one. If you want to make it an enjoyable one, free from stress and other worries, managing a solid timeline is essential. It’s especially the case with a Halloween party. Lots of people will be hosting the same kind of event. So the first thing you should do is notify your guests at least 4-6 weeks prior. Don’t forget to ensure an RVSP deadline. Finalize your wine and food list as early as possible. Purchase the “essentials” at least a month before. There is little room for compromise on “essentials.” Last but not the least, prepare your decor ahead of time and put everything in place the night before the event. ^_^

Wine Cellar Inspirations: Fun Wine Games For Your Halloween Party

October 10th, 2018

Halloween night is still weeks away, but planning early for your Halloween party is always a good idea. Apart from your food and wine menu, you should definitely think about providing some entertainment. If you’re going to have a good number of guests, an icebreaker or two is in order. Here are some fun wine games you can try out:

Fun wine games to try out!

The Blind Man’s Wine Challenge

This is quite a heavy favorite with a lot of wine tasting parties. There’s a general set of rules, but you can modify the game to suit the party mood. The great thing about this is that both beginners and expert wine tasters can participate. So if you have a mixed crowd, this will help to put everyone at ease and enjoy the rest of the night. Prepare several bottles of wine (make them as varied as possible), blindfolds, adhesive labels, and markers. You will also need some disposable cups, paper and pencil for each guest, and a list of wines. Cover the wine bottles with adhesive labels and number them. Put the corresponding numbers on the cups as well. Each guest should have a cup for each bottle of wine. Hide the wine bottles and when your guests arrive, give each of them a blindfold. Give each guest the first cup, and have them the wine. Read off a list of the wines the guests are tasting, and have them write down their best guesses. Once everyone has tasted all the cups and put down their guesses, the blindfolds are removed. It’s time to check who identified the most number of bottles correctly!

Guess the number of corks!

Guess The Number Of Corks/Caps

This game is easy to prepare and won’t give any of your more experienced guests an upper hand. Prepare two or three transparent glass jars of varying sizes. Fill them up with wine bottle corks or caps. Put a sheet of paper and pen in front of each jar. As your guests arrive, have them write down their guesses for each jar on the paper, next to their names. Don’t forget to prepare some nice “prizes” for the winners. The one who can make a guess closest to the number of corks/caps inside the jars wins. There will be one winner for each jar!

Wine Toss With A Twist

Wine Toss is always a fun way to loosen everyone up. But instead of the usual wine toss, try putting a twist into the game to make it more challenging. Here’s how it goes! First, set up some empty wine bottles and divide your guests into two (or three) groups.  Each group will receive the same number of rings. As the host, you will read off some trivia questions. Your guests will try to toss the rings into the wine bottle which they think is the correct answer. The catch? Once a group runs out of rings to toss, they can’t answer any more questions. So they have to be careful not to waste a lot of rings on just one question. Naturally, the group with the most number of correct answers wins! ^_^

Wine Cellar Inspirations: Fun Table Preparation Concepts For Christmas

December 20th, 2017

Christmas eve dinner will certainly be always a special occasion. Whether you celebrate it with family and friends, with your special someone, or with a huge gathering of people, it will always be loads of fun. And one of the truly enjoyable moments actually come during the preparation stage. That’s right! Setting up the Christmas table and thinking of all the ways you can make it beautiful is definitely an activity to look forward to. With Christmas eve only a few days away though, the nerves can get a bit frazzled along the way. So we thought we’d lend a helping hand with some of these fun table preparation concepts:

Incorporate natural touches!

Incorporate “natural” touches

This year, “all-natural” has become one of the biggest buzzwords for almost anything. Food, drinks, toiletries, make-up, fashion – you name it. People have been leaning more and more towards “all-natural” ingredients in almost anything. So why not bring these “all-natural” touches to your Christmas table as well! Decorate your table with fresh greenery such as pine with sprigs of holly for that holiday flavor. Instead of vases, try bowls filled with fresh salad greens and topped with fruit. They will make great appetizers as well. Also, instead of the usual china or crystal setting, switch it up with wooden plates and bowls.

Go for “bold and vibrant” decor

It’s the holidays, people! Get out of your comfort zone and instead of the usual elegant (spell, stiff!) decor, glassware and cutlery, go for something bold and vibrant. It will actually prove to be a nice change and will help give off a relaxed and cozy atmosphere. Colorful, mismatched glassware, decorative plates, printed table runners and napkins – these say one thing: fun, fun, fun. You can also add some quirky little presents for your guests such as holiday poppers or tiny boxes of liquor-filled chocolates.

Bold and vibrant decor!

Overdecorate to spell “abundant”

What better time than Christmas dinner to literally go all out with food, drinks, and of course, presents?  Make this Christmas eve dinner one of the most memorable ones by making your table exude an air of abundance. Overdecorating is the key. Go for large blooms for your centerpiece. Trot out large candles and candle holders, oversized bowls and serving platters, and pile on the holiday greenery such as pine and junipers. Turn your table into a grazing table chock-full of aperitifs – fruits, nuts, cheeses, cupcakes, crackers and more. We guarantee an air of festivity like no other!

Wine Cellar Inspirations: Staycation Activities For The Holidays

November 22nd, 2017

Christmas holidays is drawing closer and closer! For sure, we’re all excited in planning out our winter activities. But for some (and maybe more), the budget just won’t cooperate. That means you can’t really go anywhere nice and warm. Well, think about this, though. A tropical vacation may sound dreamy, but it’s not the only way to enjoy the season. You’ll be wonderfully surprised at how some staycation activities can be even more fun and productive. Here are a few of them. Check them out, try them out, save more money in the process and have a blast this holidays:

Pull up your city or town’s local event guide

Most cities and towns actually have a winter calendar with a bunch of awesome activities already scheduled. If you were too busy with other stuff (or probably staying away) during the winter season to check them out, now’s the time to do so. Most of these activities are scheduled on weekends so that families can take advantage of them. They can range from holiday bazaars to carols and sleigh rides, winter sports, Christmas shows, and so much more. You will discover so many events to go to that you’ll be asking for more time to do them all.

Explore your town or city's hot spots!

Explore local parks and “hot” spots

This is something that happens most of the time. Because we’ve lived practically all our lives in our area, we neglect to explore it. We take for granted that there are actually places that attract other people as well. So if you don’t have the money to splurge on that tropical vacation, go out and explore your local attractions. Visit your local museum or historical societies. Check out the activities in your local parks. Go for a drive and enjoy the sights your city or town has to offer this time of the year. And don’t forget to try out local restaurants you’ve never been to before!

Organize holiday wine and cheese party!

Organize get-togethers or fun nights-out

Now is the time to fully enjoy with your family and friends without having to worry about spending a fortune. The best thing about staycations is that they give you so much time to just hang out and have a genuinely good time. Plan a spa day with your girlfriends. Throw an informal wine and cheese tasting party at home. Do a movie-swap with friends: go to the movie you like this week and the one that they like the next. And of course – go shopping!

Do you have more staycation ideas you’d want to share? We’d love to hear them so leave a comment or two below! ^_^

Wine Cellar Inspirations: Wine And Cheese Pairings For Spring

April 26th, 2017

Spring is definitely the season for entertaining. It’s also the season for appreciating flavors, from wine to food and other beverages. Naturally, when we talk of wine flavors, we will also definitely cross paths with wine and cheese pairings. After all, what’s a wine party without  some good old wine and cheese? For this season, we’ve whipped up a couple of  delish recommendations you’d want to try out for your next get together.

Wine and cheese pairings

Now before we go on to the actual pairings, it’s quite important to keep in mind a few pointers. First off, always remember this classic wine pairing rule that states: “When a wine is matched with a cheese that has a similar flavor profile, the flavors will cancel each other out on the taster’s palate and enhance the more subtle flavors in both the wine and the cheese that would otherwise go unnoticed.”

Here is an example: a crisp, acidic white wine paired with an acidic cheese. When the taster has both in her mouth – instead of being overwhelmed by a strong sour taste, the acidity will disappear because the flavors cancelled each other out.  What will be noticeable would be the subtle notes of fruit or floral from the wine and a creamy sweetness and other flavors associated with the cheese. These flavors won’t be easily noticeable had the cheese and the wine have been sampled separately.

Now on to the pairings! Here are a few that will tickle your guests’ tastebuds and really bring those bursts of flavors:

  • Shiraz and Asiago Cheese
  • Sauvignon Blanc and Havarti Cheese
  • White Zinfandel and Truffle Cheese
  • Cabernet Sauvignon and Manchego Cheese
  • Bordeaux and Colby Jack Cheese

Spring wines and cheeses

The pairings may seem a bit traditional for some, so if you’re up for something different, we also recommend Chardonnay with Naked Goat Cheese. We recommend an unoaked style chardonnay like a Naked Chardonnay. Since both will have more or less the same acidity, the flavors will actually cancel each other out. Note that Naked Chardonnay focuses on the crisp acidity of the chardonnay grape with flavors of lemony citrus and tart green apple. Naked goat cheese, on the other hand, has a tangy finish. Eaten together, what will be enhanced are the flavors of pear and honey from the wine and the creamy and nutty flavors from the cheese.

Do you have your own favorite wine and cheese pairing for Spring? Share them with us as well! ^_^

WCI Inspirations: Wine Tasting Party Ice-Breakers!

February 15th, 2017

Valentine’s Day may be over but the month of love is still going strong – especially the wine tasting! Wine tasting parties, whether formal or informal, happen all year long. Some of us have hosted a couple of them before and some of us are already old hands. But for sure, there will also be some of us who are total newbies to hosting these wine tasting parties. Last time, we shared with you some cool tips on how to prep for your wine tasting party. Today, we’re going to be sharing with you guys some novel ice-breakers to get your party started on the right foot:

Blind tasting with a twist!

Blind tasting with a twist!

Blind tasting games at wine parties is pretty common. So why don’t we do things a little bit differently this time? Instead of just the usual blind tasting with different wines, why not do a wine + cheese or wine + other appetizer blind tasting. This is a fresh and fun way to get rid of the awkward atmosphere. Inform your guests beforehand to bring just small samples of cheese or other appetizers and to write down the name and small description on a piece of paper. For the blind tasting game, chalk up double points for the one who can guess both the wine and cheese pairing. It’s like Jeopardy Daily Double – but with wine!

Cards Against Humanity – Wino Style!

Cards Against Humanity Wino-Style

Most of us probably know this game even if we’ve never played it before. The game is simple. Each round, one player asks a question from a black card, and everyone else answers with their funniest white card. But get this – you can actually customize your own cards to incorporate wine into the picture. It only takes about an hour to build your own deck online for just ten bucks. Formulate wine-inspired questions and churn out those white cards with all the crazy wine quotes you can find. If this doesn’t break the ice at your wine party, we don’t know what will!

The “Wine Genius” Game!

Wine Genius!

This is a guessing game that is just loads of fun and very informative, too. Prepare cards with self-adhesive labels. Write down the names of different wine varietals, famous “wine countries,” wine-themed movies, and just about anything wine-related. Ask your guests to pair off at random by picking numbers from a hat. Each pair will play the guessing game like this: one of them will wear a hat with a card stuck on it. He or she will try to guess what’s written on the card. The other person will try to help by guiding his or her partner to the right answer by just answering “yes,” “no,” or “maybe.” to the partner’s questions. While the one wearing the hat can ask any question to help him get the right answer, the partner can only respond “yes,” “no,” or “maybe.” The pair who can guess the answer in the shortest amount of time wins!

WCI Inspirations: Tips For Hosting Your Wine Tasting Parties

February 1st, 2017

2017 has barely started but we’re pretty sure that the wine tasting parties are already in full swing. Have you held your first one yet? Whether you have or you’re about to, today’s WCI Inspirations will certainly throw some useful tips your way. Check out some of these fun ways to plan your wine tasting parties and make your get-togethers, whether formal or not, a lot more memorable:

Set the theme for your party…

Silver-SS-Cellar

It’s only natural that the first step in planning a wine tasting party is determining the kind of event you want to host. If it’s your very first time, go the simple route and host a “stand-alone tasting.” This is one that will allow your guests to focus exclusively on what they are drinking and not fill up on or get too distracted by food. In other words, you can focus more on the wine supplies and a bit less on the food. That should cut a significant amount of preparation time. On the other hand, you can also choose to combine a tasting with a dinner, cocktail party, or other gathering. For first-timers, we suggest serving a light dinner followed by the wine tasting.

Prep your party space…

taste-rm-1

This would largely depend on the amount of people you have invited. But it would be safe to say that you should hold it at the largest room  in your home to allow space for your guests to mingle. The dining room is ideal, but if the living room is larger, that can work as well. If you decide to hold it outdoors like the patio or garden, you have to really ascertain the weather conditions on the day of your tasting party. Or, as a precaution, set up necessary protection from the elements such as a dome tent or cabana. If you have a nice, covered patio, then do take advantage of that. Plan your decor ahead to time so you can customize them without spending a ton of $$$. Wrapping some personalized mementos for your guests is a gesture that will really set the mood for your party. Small wine-themed gifts such as wine charms, stationery, and bottle tags are some smart options.

Do not forget the “essentials”…

If it’s your first time to host a wine tasting party, there are a few “essentials” that you should have ready:

  • A water pitcher and glasses filled with ice water to help cleanse the guests’ palate after each tasting
  • A large bucket or bowl in your tasting area for guests to dump extra wine after each tasting round
  • Ice bucket if white or sparkling wine selections are on your tasting menu

taste-rm

And lastly – prepare an ice-breaker before the actual tasting party starts! We’ll be sharing some wine tasting party ice-breakers with you guys on the next blog or so, so stay tuned. ^_^

 

The Time Is “Ripe” For Wine Harvest Season!

September 26th, 2016

Merry Monday salutations, fellow winos! If you live somewhere in North America, it shouldn’t be hard to guess what time of the year this is. Yup, yup – it’s the wine harvest season and the best time to pack that suitcase and tour the wine countries.

In the Northern Hemisphere, grape harvest season is usually from August to October. These are the perfect months to schedule a relaxing holiday to wine country because: one, the weather is a little cooler; two, the grapes are ripe; and three, everywhere is bustling with activity. Note that the wine harvest season takes place for about 2 months each year. This is owing to wine grapes ripening at various rates. Here’s a helpful season chart to serve as your guide, courtesy of the Winefolly:

Wine Harvest Season

Getting ahead of the game: knowing when to harvest!

Wine growers are, of course, the best people who can tell when the wine grapes are literally ripe for the picking. Years and years of experience coupled with passion for wine have made them so familiar with the taste of ripeness that they can walk down a row tasting grapes and know intuitively when to pick. But of course, there are also lots of scientific studies to back up the “timing” theories for wine harvest. For the most part, there are two factors that are taken into consideration when determining the right time to harvest: the sweetness level of the grapes and the so-called “physiological ripeness.”

Let’s talk about sweetness level first. It should be remembered that wine grapes are a whole lot sweeter than table grapes. What’s the significance does this distinction have? Actually, the sweetness level of the grapes determines the resulting alcohol level. Sweetness comes from sucrose in grapes and is measured in Brix. One of the most commean measuring tools for Brix is a hydrometer. So what happens is this: the vineyard managers will check every week down to the time of harvest so that they can harvest each part of their vineyard at the right moment. There are times when they even need to check on a daily basis. “In a poor vintage, rains cause grapes to swell and ruin the careful balance of sweetness and acidity.”

The second factor is the physiological ripeness of the grapes. Physiological ripeness would refer to the other parts of the grape (the seeds, skin and stems) that are also ripe. When they ripen, you will notice that the seeds will taste less bitter. The colors also change from green to yellowish hues. It is this change that makes the resulting wine tannin taste sweeter. Tannin is known to affect a wine’s finish or aftertaste.

So go on, pack that suitcase, and head straight to wine country – the time is indeed “ripe” for the true-blue wino! ^_^