My friend, Scott, loves to host elaborate dinner parties. I was excited to provide some TWINSPIRATION for his most recent dinner party for 8. I proposed an Italian themed dinner party since Italians are known for their love affair with food and wine. I am excited to share my fresh, flavorful meal with you.
Archana and I make dining at home special by adding a different theme each time. In the past we have selected a region of the world (France, Japan), a season (Spring, Fall), an ingredient (Apple) or a color (Pink, Black & White) to inspire a fabulous meal. We pick 3-5 courses (salad, soup, main dish, side dish and/or dessert) to make the meal feel indulgent. We often ask guests with exemplary cooking skills to tackle one of the courses, while the co-host or Archana prepares the entree. The other guests are asked to bring fine wine that pairs with each course.
PRIMO – DECORAZIONE
The Italian flag inspired the color palette for the dinner. I placed a beautiful bouquet of scarlet and pearl roses, porcelain alstroemeria, crimson and hunter green anthurium, emerald dianthus and baby’s breath in a large mason jar. For formal dinner parties, I recommend assigned seating. I created custom Italian flag place cards. To transport our guests to a charming Italian bistro, we played opera music (at least for the first half of the evening).
SECONDO – VINO
Italy has some of the oldest wine-producing regions in the world. It is also globally the largest wine producer by volume. Grapes are grown in 20 wine-making regions. The 3 major regions that produce the highest quality wines are Veneto, Piedmont and Tuscany.
- Veneto: (Northeast Italy) best known for producing the sparkling wine, Prosecco, from the Glera grape.
- Piedmont: (Northwest Italy) known for the big, bold red wines of Barolo and Barbaresco and the bubbles of Moscato. This region is dominated by three grapes: Barbera, Nebbiolo, and Dolcetto.
- Tuscany: (Central Italy) produces Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano primarily from the Sangiovese grape. The Vernaccia grape is used to make the white wine, Vernaccia di San Gimignano. Tuscany is also known for the dessert wine Vin Santo, which is made from a variety of the region’s grapes.
DOLCE – LA CUCINA CASALINGA
Italian food centers around “La Cucina Casalinga” or home cooking. The menu should be simple since Italian cooking is all about simplicity. I used MustHaveMenus to create an Italian menu. Since pairing food with wine enhances the overall dining experience, I used HelloVino to determine the wine pairings.
We started the evening with a glass of Prosecco. The first course was a flavorful minestrone with vegetables and elbow macaroni. We recommend adding soup courses to your winter dinner menus. They can be easily prepared in a slow cooker and all the prep work can be completed before guests arrive. The minestrone was served with homemade onion and tomato focaccia and paired with Sangiovese. Sangiovese wines are usually lightly colored with high acid, light body and moderate to high tannins. The dominating flavors are red cherry, violets and tea.
The appetizer course was roasted peppers stuffed with Conchiglie pasta and vegetables. I paired this course with Dolcetto. Dolcetto translates into “little sweet one” but it is neither sweet nor little. The wines are dark in color with flavors of blackberry, licorice and tar. The wines have low acidity but offer plenty of mouth-drying tannin.
The main course was grilled lamb chops with cherry vinaigrette served with polenta and bacon potatoes. For any complicated dish, we recommend doing almost everything in advance so that you are just warming up the food when people arrive. I paired this course with a Chianti. Chianti has savory flavors, high acidity and coarse tannin, which make it an incredible wine with food.
We concluded our meal with a coconut chocolate pie. I will admit this isn’t Italian but it was delicious! I paired the dessert with a Moscato, which a sweet, slightly bubbly white wine made from Muscat Blanc grapes. It has a refreshing flavor profile of apricot, peach, nectarine, lemon and orange.
Thank you Scott for a wonderful evening.
“Mangia bene, ridi spesso, ama molto”
“Eat well, laugh often, love much”