Much like Meghan Markle when she had her first “Tig moment”, I never felt like I knew much about wine. At least not in the connoisseur sense of wine knowledge. And when it came to buying reds and wines for drinking, I started to experience liquor store anxiety. Now that we’ve spent some time at the Biltmore Estate Winery, I understand the body, legs, and profile of wine. Biltmore’s winery keeps the Vanderbilt tradition of gracious hospitality alive and I’ve been thinking about hosting and entertaining tips a lot lately, especially the importance of a well stocked bar!
Hosting and entertaining tips you'll want to follow this year
Whether your hosting a Holiday party or having friends over for dinner, we know you want to make sure everyone has a good time. Here are my tips and tricks for having a well stocked bar and throwing a killer party when entertaining any type of crowd!
1. Make a list and ask for help
Unless you are throwing a super last minute get together, you have plenty of time to make a list and get a game plan together. Most of the hosting stress comes from prepping and planning so save yourself the headache and don’t be scared to ask for help! And don’t forget to have a game plan for the day of too! Know what time you should start getting ready, serving, and who is bringing extra ice if you run out. Trust me, you’ll be so happy you did.
2. Make Everyone Feel at Home
If you’re having a holiday get together or you’re hosting a party, make sure you decorate appropriately. A little decor goes a long way make your guests feel welcome and get them in the mood. You don’t have to go all out! Adding a fabulous wreath to your front door, even if you are in an apartment, is a great way to spruce up your place.
3. Ditch Dinner
Unless you plan to have a caterer, skip serving dinner and opt for light bites or tapas. A dinner party requires A LOT of prep that can be time consuming and stressful. A cocktail party is much easier to plan so ditch the menus, places settings, and roll out the bar cart instead!
4. Don't Over Complicate It, Go With What You Know
Don’t over complicate it at the bar either! Go with what you know. Don’t try any new recipes and stick to your party pleasers. Head to Trader Joe’s or your deli for tapas, olives, desserts, and other light bites you can put on serving trays, a beautiful presentation goes a long way!
5. DON'T FORGET THE PLAYLIST
The key to a good party is music and it sets the tone for your gathering. A custom curated playlist is always the way to go, but if you don’t have time to make your own try one of Pandora’s seasonal stations where you will find a nice mix of classics and contemporary hits. Just make sure you opt for commercial free! Nothing kills the mood quicker than a commercial for Billy’s car lot…
6. Have a well stocked Bar
Instead of offering endless options of signature cocktails, stick to simpler options. Consider one easy to make signature cocktail like a fizzy holiday punch or boozy peppermint hot chocolate along with all purpose red and white wine, beer, and a non-alcoholic option.
What drinks to have on hand for a well stocked bar
If you’re like us, you have friends and guests who all have their drink of choice. So, over the years I’ve learned how to please all the palates. Here are some great options to have on hand for your next gathering that are sure to please everyone in the crowd.
Vanderbilt Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley 2016
VARIETAL: Cabernet Sauvignon
APPELLATION: Alexander Valley
RESIDUAL SUGAR: 0.3%
- Gouda Cheese
Biltmore Estate® Limited Release Malbec
RESIDUAL SUGAR: 0.5%
- Spicy Cuisine
The Hunt Red Blend Sonoma County 2016
APPELLATION: Sonoma County
RESIDUAL SUGAR: 0.4%
- Smoked Cheese
Biltmore Estate® Pinot Grigio
VARIETAL: Pinot Grigio
RESIDUAL SUGAR: 1.1%
- Ricotta Cheese
Biltmore® Reserve Chardonnay North Carolina 2017
APPELLATION: North Carolina
RESIDUAL SUGAR: 0.5%
- Asiago Cheese
Biltmore Estate® Limited Release Sauvignon Blanc
VARIETAL: Sauvignon Blanc
RESIDUAL SUGAR: 0.6%
- Mozzarella Cheese
Cranberry Apple Mule
BLACKBERRY Rosé LEMONADE
For a bigger gathering, skip the fancy glasses and premix everything in a punch bowl.
20TH CENTURY Whiskey Sour
2 oz. Straight Bourbon Whiskey
1 oz. Simple Syrup
1 oz. Lemon Juice
APPLE HOT TODDY
I am a big fan of picking cocktails that I can loosely follow the recipe. I like being able to substitute spirits or garnishes so that I feel like I have a few more options to offer my guest too. Just remember to take a deep breath and keep the stress away! Everyone is coming over to have a good time, so don’t get too caught up in your own party. One of the best entertaining tips I have ever gotten? If anyone asks if they can bring anything on the way, always always always say yes to a bag of ice!