Dinner for . . . ten?

I’ve always wanted to host fancy dinner parties for my friends. It’s something my parents did when I was young, and I’ve since adopted my mom and dad’s adoration of being the hosts with the most.

I love to entertain. I love to prepare good food and choose great wine and I love to put those things together to make a memorable evening. But, I’ve never really had the opportunity to hold an elaborate dinner -a 5 course meal- until now. A few weeks ago I was discussing my desire to hold such an event with my boyfriend’s good friend and, to my delight, he expressed a passion to cook up a storm and impress his buds with his culinary prowess. So we paired up, him bringing the heat in the kitchen and me plotting the perfect wines for his 5 course menu.

Cooking for ten people is no easy feat, so if you plan to attempt a dinner for ten make sure you take your menu for a dry run before the main event.

With the right chef in the kitchen and the perfect pairings, this kind of affair can make for a sensory stimulating dinner as well as a great conversation piece to get the table talk rolling.

People love to be catered to, so when planning a dinner party make sure you take into consideration your crowd. Are they the “meat and potatoes” kind of group? Are they wine aficionados? Are your guests budding foodies? Fortunately, most of my friends take some sort of interest in great food and wine pairings so Danny and I were able to have a bit of fun with our menu.

Below is the menu and a few tips on how to make the right choice of wines to accompany an eclectic menu. . . and crowd.

Each course was allotted a different wine- 5 wines in total- to enhace the various flavours. Each guest received a small portion of food and about 2 ounces of wine with each dish, keeping the cost down to 5 bottles ( spread between 10 people).

Course 1:

With prosciutto or any fatty meat, you always want to opt for a sharp, high acid type of wine. In this instance I chose Cuvee Catharine Henry of Pelham. This sparkling wine was able to cut through the fat of the prosciutto without overwhelming the other delicate flavours.

Course 2:

The dressing and cheese on your salad are the best indicators as to what kind of wine should act as the accompaniment. In this case, we had feta with a, tart citrus dressing. To stand up to a fatty cheese like feta, we needed a high acid wine; however, the dressing really called for something sweet to counter balance the citrus.To compromise, I chose a Pillitteri Gewurztraminer Riesling which has the sweetness of a traditional Gewurztraminer, but the racy acidity of a riesling.

Course 3:

When it comes to scallops, seared in buttery goodness, you can always have more of a good thing. So I paired these buttery delicacies ( and the favourite dish of the night!) with a Macon Verze White Burgundy. White Burgundy (chardonnay) are known for executing that style of buttery richness typical to Chardonnay but with a dash of elegance. Instead of an unctuous mouthful, White Burgundy tends to be delicate and fresh, yet creamy and delicious. With scallops, this pairing didn’t overpower the light flavours of the fruits de mer, but enriched the butter.

Course 4:

Following some very delicate and fresh whites, I felt it was about time to take the pairings to the next level. With the steak, which had bold flavours in the reduction and the rub, we served a highly tannic, full blown mama. The Pirramimma Petit Verdot, despite its name,is a BIG red and was up to the challenge of a juicy steak. It was more so the wine that needed a knife to cut through, than the tender steak in front of us!

Course 5:

To finish we noshed on an acclaimed pairing. In the Loire Valley, a traditional pairing of wine and cheese is chevre with the regional Sauvignon Blanc “Sancerre”. With the tangy, creamy flavours of the cheese, Sancerre  seemed like the perfect choice with its crisp, grapefruit flavours and high natural acidity.

The next time you’re hosting a dinner party for 10, be sure that you work out any kinks in your menu and have a good handle on the wines that will best compliment each dish. All it takes is a splash of the wrong wine to throw the slaved-over-dinner to the curb.

Bon appetit & bon chance nuts, if this hasn’t made you drool already, I’m not sure what will. . . in a nutshell.

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