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Friday, December 18, 2009

A Wine Tasting Party

This post is dedicated to my wonderful sister n'law, Melissa.  Today is her birthday and in honor of her birthday I wanted to post pictures and recipes from a spectacular Wine Tasting/Christmas party she and my brother hosted last week-end!  Everything was picture perfect!  Her food was awesome and decor was so festive! I think I had a camera in my hand the first hour of the party!  Throwing a party is so stressful and time consuming, but Melissa made this party flawless!  Enjoy!  Maybe this will give you some ideas so you can throw your own wine tasting party!

THE IDEA:  The host and hostess sent an invitation out to everyone in the mail.  They requested that everyone bring a white bottle and a red bottle of wine of their choice.  They did not give a monetary amount.  The idea was to see the range of wine people would bring.  Some people would bring a $10.00 bottle and others may bring a $70.00 bottle.  The idea is to have a range of wines for everyone to try.  Once the guests arrived at the party a table was set up pre-measured and pre-sticky christmas wrapping paper.  The guests wrapped their bottles of wine the idea being that noone would see the names of the wine.  They then would wrap a green bow around the stem of the white wines and a red bow around the red wines.  The guests were then escorted into their beatifully holiday decorated kitchen.  A large island was set up for the white wines.  Here were wine chillers and tons and tons of wine tasting appetizers.  A large dining table was set up in another area of their kitchen.  This table was set up for red wine and red wine appetizers.  White wine glasses were given to each guest along with a score card numbered 1- 10 for each bottle of white wine.  Each bottle of wine had a number on the outside.  As the guests tried each wine they would rate it 1 through 5.  1 being "just so so" and 5 being "the best".  The guests tasted each white wine and rated each one.  We then were given a red wine glass and we moved on to the red wine table. Here we tasted and rated each red wine.  All along eating our way through the tastings!



  • 1 pound bacon, cut in half crosswise
  • 2 pounds small sea scallops
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • 2 TB. chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 garlic cloved, minced
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • Salad greens
  1. Wrap one piece of bacon around each scallop; secure with wooden toothpicks, if necessary.  Place wrapped scallops in 13x9 inch baking dish.
  2. Combine oil, brandy, parsley, garlic, pepper, salt and onion powder in small bowl; mix well.  Pour over scallops; cover and marinate in refrigerator at least 4 hours.
  3. Remove scallops from marinade; discard marinade.  Arrange on rack of broiler pan.  Broil, 4 inches from heat, 7 to 10 minutes until bacon is brown.  Turn over; cook 5 minutes or until scallops are opaque.  Remove wooden toothpicks.  Arrange over salad greens and garnish.

  • 1 pound feta cheese, cubed
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 TB. finely minced green bell pepper
  • 2 TB. finely minced red bell pepper
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 TB. italian flat leaf parsley
  • 2 tsp. fresh rosemary chopped
  • 1 tsp. peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4  tsp. pepper
  1. Place all ingredients in clean, dry glass jar with tight fitting lid.  Marinate, refrigerated, at least several  hours, or even several days.  Flip jar upside down occasionally to immerse cheese in seasonings and oil.
  2. Serve with bread, toasted baguette slices, crackers, fruit or vegetables, if desired.  As cheese is used up additional cubed cheese can be added to jar, or remaining herb oil mixture can be made into a vinaigrette dressing by adding vinegar to the jar.  Shake jar before serving.
*You can also just make this in a bowl as seen above like Melissa did.

  • 2 (6.5 oz) jars marinated artichoke hearts, drained
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 t sp. finely minced fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 TB. extra virgin olive oil
  1. Cut the artichoke hearts in half and transfer to a bowl.  Add all of the remaining ingredients.
  2. Stir well and refrigerate.
  3. The recipe can be completed to this point up to 1 week before serving.
  4. To serve, bring to room temperature.  Place on a serving plate and serve with toothpicks or skewers.
  • 6 TB. butter
  • 6-8 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 pounds large raw shrimp (about 16), peeled and deveined
  • 6 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • Juice of 1 lemon - about 2 TB.
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • Lemon slices and fresh parsley sprigs for garnish
  1. Clarify butter by melting it in small saucepan over low heat.  Do not stir.  Skim off the white foam that forms on top.  Strain clarified butter through a cheesecloth into glass meassuring cup to yield 1/3 cup.  Discard milky residue at bottom of pan.
  2. Heat clarified butter in large skillet over medium heat.  Add garlic; cook and stir 1-2 minutes until softened but not brown.
  3. Add shrimp, green onions, wine and lemon juice; cook and stir until shrimp turn pink and are firm and opaque, 1-2 minutes on each side.  Do not overcook.
  4. Just before serving, add chopped parsley and season with salt and pepper.  Serve on large platter or individual dishes.  Garnish with sliced lemons and fresh sprigs of parsley.

  • 8 oz. smoked salmon
  • finely grated lemon zest of 2 lemons
  • fresh cracked black pepper
Cut slices of smoked salmon lengthwise into long strips, about 1/2 inch wide and about 4 inches long.  Carefully thread the strips onto toothpicks or skewers.

Arrange the loaded sticks on a serving platter and sprinkle with finely grated lemon zest and cracked black pepper.




* Working on recipe


Purchase assortment of olives about 2 cups.  Place olives in a bowl with 1/ 2 cup olive oil, 1 tsp.fresh chopped rosemary, 1 tsp. fresh chopped oregano, 1 tsp. fresh chopped basil, salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes.  Mix well.  Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour to 1 day.  To serve put olives in decorative bowl with rosemary sprig garnish. Serve at room temp.


* Working on recipe

  • 1  loaf french baguette bread
  • 2 TB. olive oil
  • 3 oz. soft goat cheese, crumbled
  • 2 oz. reduced fat cream cheese (Neufchatel)
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. snipped fresh sage or oregano
  • 1 1 /4 cups coarsly chopped pitted italian olive
  • 1/2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 (7 oz.) jar roasted red sweet peppers, drained and cut into strips
  • finely shredded fresh sage or oregano
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut bread into 1/2 inch slices.  Lightly brush both sides of bread slices with 2 TB. olive oil.  Arrange on a baking sheet.  Bake about 10 minutes or until crisp and lightly browned, turning once.
  2. Meanwhile, in medium bowl, stir together goat cheese, cream cheese, lemon juice, and snipped sage or oregano.  In small bowl, combine olives and 1/2 t sp. olive oil; toss to coat.
  3. To assemble, spread toasted bread slices with cheese mixture.  Top with olives, roasted pepper strips, and shredded sage or oregano.  Serve warm or cool.
*Recipe & Photo Courtesy of Better Homes & Gardens

  • 5 TB. olive oil
  • 1 lb. white or cremini mushrooms, washed well, trimmed and cut into quarters
  • kosher salt
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 TB. sherry vinegar
  • 2 TB. chopped fresh italian flat leaf parsley
  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat until it's hot and shimmering.  Add the mushrooms, season with 3/4 tsp. kosher salt, stir to coat in the oil, then let the liquid released by the mushrooms evaporates adn they are deep golden brown - 5 to 7 minutes.
  2. Stir and continue to satue, stirring occasionally, until most sides are nicely browned, 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium, add the garlic and cook just to soften it, 15 to 30 seconds.  Add the vinegar and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan, until the vinegar evaporates, about 15 seconds. 
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and toss in the parsley. Season to taste with more salt if needed.
  5. Transfer to a dish and serve with toothpicks or serving spoon for putting on individual plates.

*Recipe & Photo Courtesy of Fine Cooking






1 comment:

  1. Love that the bottles are a secret and you have to rate them!!