The last thing any party should be is bland, in any way. Flatware, music, and the entire horizon of the venue should be bubbling with excitement. While this is not an invitation to decorate each and every corner of the room where you and your guests will be enjoying several wines, it is a good idea to transform the room a bit for a new and more exciting time.
Emphasize the Evening
This is ultimately a wine tasting rather than another meal. The décor should reflect that. Consider placing a few empty wine bottles and corks at the center of the table, or at the focal point of the room if you expect guests may be moving around. If you are featuring the wines of a single country or varietal, perhaps give your guests an attractive list of the wines.
A wine tasting is not a hurried affair, so do everything you can to ensure it is not perceived as one. Candles beside the empty wine bottles (small carved ones as well as the larger pillar candles), a vase or two of fresh flowers, and quiet chamber music will all add to the relaxed atmosphere. If too much effort is put into the atmosphere, even with the best of intentions, it may be off putting. Few things are so stilted and uncomfortable as formal dinner parties. Avoid fostering that feeling in your room. A bowl of fruit, even if it is just a dish of apples, can help with that sense of stiffness. Not for eating, they will help any heaviness begin to dissipate.
If you choose, decorating in muted earth tones to mimic those associated with the more picturesque areas of Italy will work well. Give this significant consideration if you are serving primarily Italian wines. Otherwise, think other options through before jumping directly to it.
The Smaller Things
Guests, of course, like to be recognized. When you arrange your table, set a name card beside the appropriate setting. Using a lovely piece of card stock and a fine calligraphy, it will not have the sense of being back in a classroom. If you’ve had the time to make wine charms, be sure to use them. Since your guests will be using several glasses, consider placing it on each guest’s water glass. It is, of course, a small gift your guest can take along, perhaps with a bottle and cork from the evening.
Throughout the course of your tasting, you will accumulate a fair number of used glasses. It is just one of the battle wounds of a wine tasting. If
you have the room, arrange the glasses carefully as they are used, along with any emptied wine bottles with their corks. Naturally, in the center of the table is not the best place for this, but perhaps on a sideboard or a buffet style table.
Small mirrors set flat on the table will reflect any candlelight nicely, giving an illusion of more. If you have an available collection of picture frames, place a piece of paper or fabric with a matching pattern behind the glass rather than a picture.
Setting a perfect table and atmosphere will elevate your wine tasting to a new level. Rather than just a gathering of friends, it could become an evening to remember. Alongside the best wines you can unearth and afford, treat it as an opportunity to make discoveries with those you know and with whom you can enjoy them properly.