When it comes to getting fresh entertaining ideas, I'm just like everyone else - sometimes I need a little help or a little inspiration. Some of my best ideas come when I'm traveling to new places. My senses seem to go into overdrive and even mundane things I overlook at home, can take on a new light when I see them used in a different environment or in different ways.
I constantly look at things and think about what I'm actually seeing. What am I feeling? What am I tasting? Why is it different? How can I recreate this - feeling, look, taste?
Some people can get caught up with, is it an original idea. I believe it's impossible to recreate things exactly the same way, even if you create it yourself. It could be close but there will always be subtle differences and you interpret things differently based on your own taste and the things you have available.
I believe in taking an idea or a concept and making it my own. Something that fits into my life and the boundaries I have.
So here are a few ideas I picked up in Napa. Have fun with them and make them into something you can own. It might just be the inspiration you need for your next gathering.
Keep it simple - rather than putting on a full dinner party, have friends around to enjoy some good wine and serve some nibbles. No need for store-bought or homemade appetizers, just serve a variety of cheeses served on big platters with fresh fruit. Add a few salty treats such as olives, and a touch of sweetness with some gourmet chocolate, and you have makings for a great night.
No need for centerpieces or flower arrangements, focus on good wine and fresh food.
You might not have a wine cave, but turn down the lights and set the mood with candles or a really amazing light fixture (like the one in the tasting room at Hall Winery in Rutherford).
Long narrow tables are perfect for casual entertaining - inside or out. A narrow table lets you easily have a conversation with people across from you as well as those you're seated next to you.
Take the party outside while you can. Take advantage of the beautiful weather before it gets too chilly.
When it comes to buying wine, talk to the experts at your local wine store and ask them what they would recommend. If you have a chance to try the wine, do. And if you do end up liking it, make a note of where it was from, the type and what vintage it was.
Wine tasting parties are really fun and because you're trying many wines, it helps you start to understand which wines you really like.
Have you ever seen those foil disks in the accessory section of your local wine store? They're your drip savior - you'll wonder how you survived without them and they're reusable!