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We all feel it … the slight (or in some locations harsh!) change in the weather. Between the lingering days of summer there are days scattered in that contradict our belief that the warm, sunny days will continue. Like a clock sounding an alarm, we awaken to the signs of a season change.
As the trees are about to show us how good it is to just let thing go, our thoughts turn to the upcoming holidays. The gathering of friends and family come to mind and we suddenly recognize that it’s almost our favorite holiday time. It’s the time when we laugh, drink, eat and enjoy being surrounded by happy voices!
Make it Easy
I do it all the time, and I bet you do too. We have big ideas, great plans for doing everything that would spell perfection for the holidays. It’s only natural to envision things as we want them to be.
In this case, it’s the time required for gift shopping, and the wrapping, retrieving all the garlands and ornaments from storage, the decorating, the increased social events and more. Then a big dose of reality hits, and we recognize we just don’t have the time.
If we truly want to enjoy this festive time of year, we need to keep it simple, fun and relaxed!
Appetizers for Wine Tasting
Holidays are a perfect time for friends to gather, and it’s a perfect opportunity to have a wine tasting together. Following the “plan” to keep it simple, a wine tasting with appetizers is a fun, relaxing way to spend time with friends.
Appetizers can be elaborate, but I suggest that they don’t need to be! Your guests will enjoy themselves just chatting and savoring some wine, cheese, crackers with you.
Simple appetizer platters typically offer cheeses, which make wines taste better, some meat such as a good dry salami, grapes and good nuts. How much easier does it get?
There are also several snack foods which also are often served with wine. Veggies & dip, pretzels, chips and popcorn are also favorites and super simple to serve.
If you are determined to be a little more creative, here are some alternatives…
- Marinated olives – most grocery stores have an olive & antipasto bars with a wide range of olives, peppers and cheeses which make it easy to create a party-worthy antipasto platter.
- Fried ravioli – choose cheese or meat ravioli and fry in vegetable oil until golden, sprinkle with grated Parmesan and serve with warm marinara sauce. Great with red wines!
- Bacon wrapped cocktail wieners – cut the bacon lengths in half, wrap each wiener in a bacon strip and secure with toothpick. Place on large baking sheet and sprinkle all generously with brown sugar. Bake 45 min. @325 degrees.
- Pigs in a Blanket – again using cocktail wieners, cut each canned crescent roll into three triangle strips, wrap each strip around a cocktail wiener, bake 12-15 min. @350 degrees.
Take your pick of speedy and simple or anything else that sounds good to you. Arrange on a cutting board, in small bowls and enjoy!
Wine Pairings with Food
There are recommendations for what food is appropriate for different wines. A review of a wine varietal chart or a wine wheel is helpful in that respect. For example, strong red wine such as Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon go well with hard cheeses and cheddar.
A dry red wine like Pinot Noir or Beaujolais isn’t as bold and is a good choice with pizza and pasta.
Fresh fruit, nuts and soft cheese are suitable with Riesling’s fruity aroma and medium body.
We have appreciated the sweet Eiswein (or Icewine) which is a German dessert wine produced from grapes that were frozen while still on the vine. The grapes are harvested as soon after the grapes freeze. Then the grapes must be pressed before they thaw. The result is a rich and flavorful wine that is both sweet and acidic. Eiswein is perfect served alone as a dessert, but it is also wonderful paired with fruits and nuts.
Ultimately, it becomes a personal choice. What do YOU prefer? The opinions and recommendations are plentiful and individual taste prevails. In our home, we enjoy a strong, full bodied red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon. That doesn’t exclude other options.
For a wine tasting you don’t have to pour multiple wines.
You are ready to entertain and enjoy! A few festive decorations, you’ve prepared an assortment of appetizers and the wine is ready to pour. You do not have to serve multiple wines! Simply make an effort to serve complimentary appetizers with your wine choice or choices.
If you would like to enhance the holiday setting, a fun addition is holiday decorative wine glasses. Just like many families have special dishes used only for the holidays, holiday wine glasses are a fun tradition.
Another, less obvious option, is holiday wine glass charms. As with the holiday wine glasses, there are many designs to choose from. This is also a fun option to give as a hostess gift for a holiday gathering you are invited to!
Hopefully you are now ready to enjoy your holidays and avoid the stress we often inflict on ourselves when it should be a joyful time. It’s just good to know some shortcuts to having a holiday gathering which still delivers an enjoyable time with friends and family.
Give yourself a break and relax! Enjoy instead of filling your days with stress.
The only “rule” is to enjoy the time with your guests!