Invite: I received a thank you card years ago with wine corks cut and placed in the shape of a bunch of grapes. This idea was so cute that I stole the idea. It made a perfect invitation for a wine tasting party. Simply cut a wine cork in small circles and glue in the shape of a grape vine. Then add embellishments.
Decor: I set the table with a cream tablecloth and a burgundy table runner that I already owned. I used a large sconce in the center with a smaller vase inside ($1 at the Dollar Tree) and filled it with wine corks as part of the centerpiece. I filled the inside vase half full with rocks and placed a tea light candle on top. I used wicker place mats (Crate and Barrel) under each plate.
To add more candlelight and tie in the wine theme, I cut wine bottles to cover the remainder of the table center and placed tea lights beneath them. I read several tutorials on this, and decided to try the easiest/cheapest version...it worked! I bought a glass cutter from Home Depot ($8) and got busy. Special thanks to The Twisted Vine in Fullerton who donated a case of empty bottles for me to use! If you haven't been to their wine bar...it is a must...love it! Note: No matter how accurately you score the bottle, the glass may split imperfectly. Make sure you have plenty of bottles to try. Also, some imperfections actually help the candle to stay lit because it allows air to enter. If your candles do not stay lit, place a toothpick under the bottom to raise it a little. I had to do this on some of mine.
As a place card, I made cork napkin holders with the guest's initial on them. These were super easy. I simply drilled a hole through the cork with an electric drill, fed a ribbon through the hole, and tied the ribbon around the napkin. I bought a set of alphabet stamps at Michaels on sale for less than $10 that I used to stamp the guest's initial on the cork.
In addition to this place card, I also made cork wine charms with the same alphabet stamps. I sliced corks in quarter inch slices using a sharp knife on a cutting board. Then I hand-screwed small eye screws I purchased at Home Depot into the edge of the cork. A little ribbon gave it color and tied it to the glass.
On the wine tasting table, I made a cork board as decor. I bought a 10x10 frame at Michaels because this is the size I was planning to make for my kitchen anyway. I wanted all the corks horizontal because I liked this look. I had a little less than 1/2 inch on each row left which is not enough room for a 6th cork, so I cut a cork using the same knife I used for the wine charms. Because I had to include this small piece of cork in each row, I alternated rows so that the small piece was on the right in one row and the left in the next, etc. I actually like how the corks are staggered because of this. I used hot glue to adhere them one at a time to the frame back and to each other.
I created covers for each of the 7 tasting wines on Microsoft Word and placed them on top of coasters I bought in the dollar bin at Target. I also cut circles out of felt and placed them on the table to look like a bunch of grapes for added decor. Make sure you include a carafe for guests to discard any wine they do not like, a bit of bread, as well as a pitcher of water for in between taste tests.
Each guest received a rating/note sheet packet with a page for each of the 7 wines. At the end of the evening, we revealed the name and vintage of each bottle including the cost. For a pencil holder at this table, I lined the inside of a small vase with corks (not glued or anything), and put the pencils in the middle.
Menu: On each plate, I typed up the evening's menu. I made stands out of corks. Again, this is easy. Slice off the bottom side of the cork so that it sits flat on a surface. Then use the knife to cut a slit half-way down the cork. My slit had to be a little thick because I backed my menu in card stock.
The meal was very tasty and was definitely something I would make again. The Risotto was a huge hit as well as the mushroom sauce on the chicken.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 (8-ounce) package sliced mushrooms
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup sour cream
In a skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. When it is melted, add mushrooms and season them with salt and pepper. Cook until they are browned, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds then add the stock and simmer for 4 minutes and reduce by one third. Add the Worcestershire sauce. turn the heat off, and let cool for a minute before stirring in the sour cream. Serves 4. Note: I added a couple teaspoons of corn starch to thicken up this recipe.
Red Wine Risotto
3 1/2 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup arborio rice, or medium-grain white rice
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus additional for garnish
Bring the broth to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cover the broth and keep it warm over very low heat.
Melt the butter in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until translucent, about 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Stir in the rice and cook for about 2 minutes until the rice is toasted. Add the wine and stir until it is absorbed, about 1 minute. Add 3/4 cup of hot broth; simmer over medium-low heat until the liquid is absorbed, stirring often, about 6 minutes. Repeat, adding 3/4 cup of hot broth 2 more times, stirring often, about 12 minutes longer. At this point, the risotto can be made 4 hours ahead. Refrigerate the risotto (the rice will still be firm) and remaining broth, uncovered, until cool, then cover and keep them refrigerated until ready to proceed.
Bring the remaining broth to a simmer, then cover and keep it warm over very low heat. Stir 3/4 cup of hot broth into the partially cooked risotto over medium heat until the broth is absorbed and the risotto is hot, about 3 minutes. Add the remaining broth and simmer until the rice is just tender and the mixture is creamy, about 5 minutes longer. Stir in the peas and parsley. Add the 1/2 cup of Parmesan. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Spoon the risotto on plate. Sprinkle additional cheese over and serve.
Angel Food Cake with Wine-Glazed Strawberries
Angel Food Cake Mix
White Wine or Sparkling Wine
Bake cake as described on the box. For the glaze, slice strawberries into the size you desire. Place in a bowl and sprinkle with sugar. Then pour white wine over the mixture. Mix with a spoon. Stir the mixture every 15 minutes or so before serving to make sure glaze covers all strawberries. Serve with whipped cream.
Favor: Remember the wine bottles I cut for the centerpiece? Well, the bottoms did not go to waste. I cut each bottle just above the label, placed a candle inside, and this was my favor. I had originally intended to make candle wax and poor it inside to fill the entire wine bottle, but ran out of time for this. Ended up just buying candles. Note: Many wine bottles are not flat on the bottom, so my candles did not sit flat unfortunately. If I were to do this again, I would make my own candle to avoid this. This is a great way to save that champagne bottle from your wedding or wine bottle from a special event. It makes a great keepsake!
This was another fun and inexpensive party to throw (minus the wine of course, but you could always ask each guest to bring a bottle). I basically used supplies I had at home and finally used all the corks I had been saving from years of monthly dinners!! Makes my husband happy to not have them in the kitchen anymore!!
Hope you enjoy this post!