Sometimes you just need an excuse to get together with friends! Sure, there are book clubs and card parties and neighborhood barbecues, but one grown-up gathering that I would HIGHLY recommend this Fall is a Kansas wine-tasting party. With a few good recipes and some great Kansas Wine, you can turn an elegant gathering into something easy and fun.
5 Tips for Hosting a Wine-Tasting Party
1. Keep it Simple
It doesn’t have to be fancy. The whole point is to get together for a fun night, so don’t stress! Fix a few simple appetizers and desserts and invite your guests to do the rest.
2. What’s your theme?
We have so many great Kansas wineries with many of them making their wine available in local stores throughout the state. It would be fun to choose a theme winery where everyone brings, say, a KC Wine Co. variety to try! Or you could do an “Around Kansas” theme. Invite each guest to bring wines from several different farm wineries so you can try them all!
3. Give Your Guests Ownership
If they are invested, they will do a great job! Invite your guests to be in charge of the wines or give each guest a role in the evening. You always have at least one person in the group who loves the spotlight- give him the role of MC. Anyone love decorating? Invite her over early to set up the table with you! Got some wine connoisseurs? Put them in charge of the wine selection and the rest of the group can reimburse them.
4. Keep it Fun
You could incorporate games, fun questions and conversation starters, or I really love the idea of a wine competition! Hide the bottles in bags and have everyone vote on their favorite. At the end of the night, do a big reveal and reward the winners (and losers).
5. Do Not Forget Dessert
With all the wine tasting your group will be doing, you could drink quite a lot, so you will need some heavy appetizers to soak it all up. But you will also need a great dessert and some coffee before you send them out the door. This will reduce the effects of the alcohol and help get them home safely.
Sassy Caprese Skewers
1 pint cherry tomatoes, one side trimmed to create a flat bottom on each tomato
1 bunch basil leaves (24-26 leaves approx)
8 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1 1/2″ chunks
Good balsamic vinegar or glaze, for drizzling
To assemble, wrap a fresh basil leaf around a piece of mozzarella, then pierce with the skewer; add tomato to bottom of skewer, then stand appetizer upright on a serving platter; drizzle with a bit of balsamic vinegar. Repeat with remaining ingredients until all skewers are created.
Date and Jalapeño Chutney
Recipe from Greg Fox’s cookbook, Fresh, Row House Restaurant, Topeka, Ks
1 Tbs. oil
1 cup dried dates
2 cloves garlic, diced fine
1 red onion, diced
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
2 jalapeños, seeds and membranes removed, minced
Pinch of kosher salt
Chopped fresh cilantro
Heat oil in a skillet over medium high heat; add onions and jalapeños; cook for 5 minutes, keeping a watchful eye on the skillet. Add brown sugar, vinegar, dates and salt, continuing to cook another 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let come to room temperature; stir in cilantro. Serve with bread or cheese; also good on sandwiches.
Orange Cream Cheese Danish
Slice crescent roll dough into 8 equal rounds; place rolls onto 2 baking sheets that have been lined with greased parchment paper, placing 8 rolls on each baking sheet. Using your thumb, make an indention into the top of each roll; bake rolls for 5 minutes, uncovered, on center rack of oven.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine cream cheese with powdered sugar and lemon zest.
Remove rolls from oven and divide cream cheese mixture between them, filling each indention; top cream cheese with warm orange marmalade and a sprinkle of almonds. Return rolls to oven and bake an additional 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.
20 oz. pkg fresh or frozen tortellini, cooked according to pkg directions to al dente
1 pkg Good Seasons Italian Dressing mix, made according to pkg directions using red wine vinegar, or substitute your favorite bottled Italian dressing
1 cup pitted kalamata olives
8 oz. Gouda cheese, cut into small cubes
8 oz. hard salami, cut into small cubes
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chiffonade, if desired
1 sweet green bell pepper, seeds and membranes removed, diced
In a large serving bowl, place all ingredients except dressing; drizzle desired amount of dressing over salad ingredients; gently toss to combine. Salad is best served at room temperature.
Now You’re Cookin’,
**These recipes were featured on Chef Alli’s Farm Fresh Kitchen with From the Land of Kansas, as part of WIBW 13 News This Morning, September 2017. To order your favorite From the Land of Kansas products and ingredients, visit the From the Land of Kansas Marketplace!
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