Wednesday, October 16, 2019
   
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Find out which wines and spirits you should buy for your wedding and why. Learn what's critical in starting a tasting group.

Start a Wine Tasting Group

Start a Wine Tasting Group

Tasting creates the taster! Practice makes perfect.
 

Anthony Garcia's Glassware Review - single malt glasses

Stems/Glassware

May the best glass win.

The picture on the left shows the candidates. From left to right: the Single Malt Glass from Riedel, the Clear Spirits Glass from Schott Zwiesel (Top Ten Series), the Spirits Glass 40ml from Schott Zwiesel (Paris Series), the Barrel Aged Spirits Glass from Schott Zwiesel (Top Ten Series).

Parameters:
I poured 1/2 oz of the 13 Year Aged Hart Brothers "Finest Collection" Teaninich Distillery Single Malt Scotch Whisky (43% abv); I did not cut with water; I evaluated by nose only; with Scotch, palate is important and bouquet is everything.

The winner by far was the Schott Zwiesel Barrel Aged Spirit Glass (Top Ten Series). Ranking second in the comparison was Riedel's Single Malt Glass, third was the Clear Spirits Glass, fourth was the 40ml Glass.

Let's say the Scotch was music and the glassware was the stereo- amplifier. The 40ml Glass was like turning the nob to 3. The Clear Spirits Glass was like increasing the volume to 4. The Riedel was like cranking the nob to 7 and the Barrel Aged Glass increased the amplifier to 8.

I gained much more from an olfactory standpoint using the winner than the other glasses, allowing me to smell much more of the whisky's honey, toffee, fireplace, salt & gauze.

The one advantage the Riedel had over the Schott Zwiesel was in its ability to diminish the alcohol heat from the bouquet. This isn't a deal breaker for me. It's Scotch, you're going to smell some alcohol.

 

about the author: Anthony Garcia

At 26 years old, Anthony Garcia accomplished what many culinary professionals dream of when he opened the doors of his own restaurant, Tocai in Austin, Texas. The former Four Seasons Hotel sommelier quickly established his Mediterranean-style bistro as the location for great food, service and unique wines. Above all, Tocai was renowned for the hands-on approach of its owner and his ability to match the perfect wine to the guest’s meal. During this period, Sommelier Anthony Garcia personally served some of the world’s top wine professionals, including Peter Weygandt, Caroline Krug, Eric Solomon, Fritz Hasselbach, Robert Eymael, Dan Philips and Leonardo LoCascio. In late 2001, at the age of 30, Anthony Garcia became the sommelier of Emilia’s, a modern French restaurant, also in Austin, Texas. His dedication in managing the vast wine cellar earned Emilia’s the distinguished Best of Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator in August 2002. In autumn of that year, Sommelier Garcia traveled extensively through the Rheingau, Mosel, and Rheinhessen to visit his favorite vineyards during harvest and study aged Riesling. He was afforded the privilege to taste Rieslings from vintages as old as 1953. He then traveled through France, visiting Alsace, Champagne, Burgundy, the Rhone, the Languedoc, Bandol, Bordeaux, and the Loire. He values this trip not only for the hospitality shown to him by winemakers such as Philippe Foreau, Fritz Hasselbach, Gunter Künstler, and Jean-Marie Fourrier, but also for the opportunity to experience, firsthand, the style of restaurant service he was taught many years ago at the Café at the Four Seasons, not as a part of a corporate standard, but as a dedicated way of life.

In 2003, Anthony Garcia focused on his writing and released Paying Attention: A Guide to Wine with Food. He also began work on his second book, Never Save your Fork: An Insider’s Guide to Restaurant Service, a dining guidebook for the guest.

In August 2009, Anthony Garcia passed the rigorous Court of Master Sommeliers Advanced Examination. In addition to continuing his pursuit of the Court’s Masters Diploma, Anthony enjoys exploring the world of well-crafted cocktails, riding his bicycle and quiet meals at home with his wife Anne.

Wine is Divine - A Day in the Life of a Sommelier

Wine is Divine - Sommelier / Writer / Servant

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Paying Attention: A Guide to Wine with Food

Paying Attention: A Guide to Wine with Food
Author: Anthony Garcia
ISBN: 0974545805

 

 

Hosting a Planned Dinner Party Sample

Planning a Dinner Party

For formal dinner parties, I vote for a beautiful caterer (like 2 Dine 4 in Austin). They'll make you feel and look like a star and you can actually enjoy the night with your guests! The above is more for an informal evening...

A dinner party is another great excuse to get together and enjoy yourselves. I vote for 4 to 10 folks to be invited. In my house, we have 3 hang-out areas right next to each other (living room, kitchen, and what we refer to as the reading room). Many folks love hanging out in the kitchen, so place some edibles to nibble on in that area, that are out of the way of preparing dinner.

Limit the amount of things you need to do last minute (cooking, cocktails, etc.). Prep ahead, unless the "ritual" of preparation is part of the dinner party. I am a huge fan of not inviting people that will just show up and run right after the entree. You've got coffee, dessert, after dinner drinks, and cigars on the back porch to wind it all down. Life is short. Live it and make it count.

Limit the complexity of the dishes you make.

Plan the dinner so that you can actually enjoy the night, not stressed around the stove and sink.

Plate the food at the table or have the guests serve themselves.

 

Hosting a Dinner Party

We all love attending dinner parties with friends, but being the host or hostess for such a gathering can come with the pressure of meeting your guests' expectations of good food and good times. Well, there's no need to stress. A few hints and a little forethought can help guarantee that your next dinner party is a big hit with everyone you invite.

Katrina Szish is a style editor at GQ magazine, and a woman who loves to entertain friends. Here she gives us her tips and advice for throwing successful dinner parties at home:

  • Plan in advance. According to Szish, the most important part of throwing a perfect dinner party is planning ahead. Making decisions and preparations ahead of time will allow you to relax, enjoy yourself and be an attentive host. Planning well in advance and getting invitations out early will also guarantee that fewer of your guests will have made previous commitments.
  • Written invitations. These days, it's common to invite guests by using a mass e-mail or making a set of phone calls, but Szish prefers the old fashioned way. Hand written, mailed invitations are charming, and will let your friends know that they're in for a special evening.
  • The menu. The food you serve is of primary importance, and Szish suggests considering a number of factors when planning your dinner menu. First of all, think about your guests, and what foods they might enjoy. Next consider whether the party is formal or relaxed, and about the time of year. A menu for a casual summer dinner, for example, should be considerably different from one for a more formal evening in autumn or winter.
  • The table. Presentation is as important for the table as it is for the food, and you should consider a theme when laying out and decorating the surface. Whatever the theme, you'll want a table that's beautiful and inviting.
  • Seating. Finally, Szish suggests you think about a planned seating chart, especially for a formal evening. You can help direct the flow of conversation by choosing who sits next to whom, and place markers will add an exciting element to the dinner by encouraging new friendships, and helping each guest feel like part of the group.

 

 

Incredible edibles

You've been to a great dinner party before. The food was delicious, the wine flowed endlessly, the sparkling conversation never stopped, and the host was relaxed and gracious. You've probably also been to a disastrous dinner party, complete with food fights, drunken brawls, and a main course of burned popcorn.

Now it's your turn. Luckily, throwing a great dinner party doesn't require any time in Martha Stewart boot camp. All you need is some smart planning and a little know-how.

Before You Begin

Before you launch into menu mode, take a few moments to think about the purpose of your dinner party. Do you have to wow your scrutinizing, potential in-laws, or are you just trying to have a few interesting people over for an enjoyable evening?

The basic rule is, the simpler, the better. In general, people don't go to dinner parties expecting live entertainment and flaming desserts. The goal is a relaxing evening with good food and conversation.

The most important ingredient for any party is a well-balanced guest list. While it's not necessary for all your guests to know each other in advance (in fact, one of the elements of the party can be meeting new people), you do want to ensure compatibility. For example, if you invite your delightful but teetotaling neighbor, he might feel a little alienated if everyone else in the room is guzzling beer.

It's also important to limit the size of your list. The last thing you want to do is spend your evening tossing spaghetti for 25 people--especially when they came to spend an evening with you. Six to eight (including yourself) is an excellent number for most situations. If you choose to go larger, make sure you have enough room at the table for everyone.

Invite your guests at least a week ahead of time. They'll appreciate that you took their schedules into consideration. If the party is small, it's fine to invite over the phone, but for a larger party, written or emailed invitations add an official touch. Some of your guests will invariably ask if they can bring something. If you let them, they'll feel useful, but limit the gift giving to wine, bread, or dessert. If they bring wine, it's appropriate to open it immediately and offer them some.

 

Prepare the food and surroundings

Your guests are not expecting five-star cooking, so stick with something you know. They'll be much more impressed with a large, tasty serving of chicken and pasta than with burned crepes and runny souffles. Some great dinner party choices include pasta dishes, lasagna, or stir-fry. Or why not fire up the grill and prepare a variety of fish, chicken, and vegetables? Find out ahead of time what the dietary restrictions of your guests may be, such as vegetarianism or any allergies.

When you're planning your dinner, make a list of what you'll need for all of the courses. Be sure to consider cocktails, wine, non-alcoholic beverages, appetizers, salad, the entree, dessert, and coffee.

Buy your groceries the day before so you won't be in a rush, (besides, some recipes will call for ingredients from more than one store). Dishes you can prepare ahead of time are always great choices, because they give you more time on the night of your party. Either way, try to have as much cooking done (or well underway) as you can before the party begins. This way, your guests won't have to wait 2 or 3 hours for dinner, and you won't have to spend all night in the kitchen.

When the guests arrive, take their coats and bags, and offer them a drink right away. Have the table set (now's the time to use those cloth napkins Mom gave you), music playing in the background, and appetizers set out. Fresh flowers and hand-written place cards are two simple flourishes that add a touch of class.

 

 

 

 

Dinner party planning is made easier when you take steps to organize and create a checklist for yourself. After you send out your dinner party invitations take a look at these planning tips.  This is our version of how to host a dinner party – a complete checklist.

4 To 6 Weeks Before Your Dinner Party:

  • Decide the theme and whether you wish to host a casual dinner party or a formal dinner.
  • Who is the dinner party for? ( work, friends, family, etc..)
  • Establish your budget. Try this dinner party budget calculator.
  • Create guest list.
  • Create dinner invitations.
  • Establish a time and place. With PurpleTrail invites, you can build consensus with your guests to make sure everyone can attend.

3 To 4 weeks Prior To Your Dinner Party:
After you have established the type of dinner party you’ll be hosting and have a guest list, it’s time to start thinking about the dinner party food and decorations. These are some things you can do about a few weeks in advance.

  • Create a menu.
  • Book caterers and bartenders if necessary. (When booking a bartender, try one of your local bartending schools, they often will work for just tips in return for the practice and experience.)
  • Make a grocery list.
  • Plan a cooking schedule (what can be made ahead of time, what needs to be made they day of).
  • Decide on the table setting and place orders with a rental company, if needed.
  • Buy or borrow serving pieces and accessories.
  • Purchase or create dinner party favors if desired.
  • Check specialty stores for hard-to-find food items.
  • Select music.
  • Purchase candles or other outdoor lighting if needed. Candle light is an inexpensive way to create an elegant ambiance.  Check out an interesting post on a smashing summer dinner soiree.

1 To 2 Weeks Prior To Your Dinner Party:

As the countdown is on and you receive RSVP’s for your dinner party here’s a checklist of things to gather and create.

  • Purchase nonperishable goods.
  • Decide on the types of drinks to be served. (If you hired a bartender, finalize your order)
  • Consult with a florist or check out your local farmers market for great seasonal blooms.
  • Place special orders with the butcher, fish market or grocery store.
  • Confirm plans with the caterer, entertainer, and serving help. Arrange for a sitter to watch children and pets during the party.
  • Buy gas or charcoal for the grill, if needed.
  • Decide on a party outfit.
  • Begin a thorough housecleaning- enlist family members for help!

2-3 Days Before Your Dinner Party:

  • Clean serving ware.
  • Purchase remaining grocery items.
  • Check recipes for how far in advance food can be prepared.
  • Start food prep.
  • Create a party-day game plan.
  • Determine seating arrangements- if needed.
  • Print place cards, if using them.

Day Before Your Party:

  • Buy a great gourmet coffee blend.
  • Pick up any dry cleaning needed for the party.
  • Continue housecleaning- make sure the powder room is stocked with plenty of soap and TP.
  • Continue food preparation for those dishes that can be made in advance.
  • Set your tablescape.

And finally, things to do the day of your dinner party

  • Finish cleaning the house.
  • Pick up party orders.
  • Create a bar area.
  • Take out extra supplies.
  • Finish cooking.
  • Organize the kitchen for the final countdown.
  • Give yourself a breather- have a glass of wine.
  • Get in party mode- the fruits of your labor are about to pay off!

With the dinner party in full swing, here are a few things to get in mind

  • Try not to spend too much time in the kitchen- your guests want to see you!
  • Offer refreshments in between courses.
  • Follow your list for last-minute dessert preparation.

Items to check and stock up on for your dinner party

  • Make sure you have space on your coat rack, plenty of hangers or a separate room to put coats and bags in.
  • Create a place for boots or umbrellas if weather requires them.
  • Get plenty of ice and make sure you have an ice bucket, and ice tongs or scoop.
  • Cocktail napkins
  • Toothpicks
  • Paper towels
  • Plates (appetizer, salad, dinner, dessert)
  • Glasses (water, wine, mixed drink, beer, soda, coffee); some beverages can use the same type of glass
  • Silverware (enough for all courses and stirrers for coffee)
  • If grilling, check the tank, charcoal, and lighter fuel. Make sure you have plenty of bug spray and citronella candles too.
  • Coffee and assortment of tea bags
  • Cream and sugar
  • Salt and pepper
  • Wine and bottle opener
  • Bar garnishes (lime, lemon, olive)
  • Film for the camera – or make sure your digital camera is charged and has an empty memory card in it!
  • Garbage bags
  • Dishwashing soap
  • Club soda (for spills and spots)
  • Space to chill beverages. It only takes beer, wine and soda 20 minutes to chill on ice. A large tub or cooler can be set up in a room out of the way.

Post Party

After your smashing dinner party, keep a journal. Include what you served, who was there, and how it went. Make notes on how to improve your next dinner party as well as what made this one successful!

 

Hosting a dinner party can be an exciting, yet somewhat scary proposition. What if they don't like the food? What if I'm a lousy host? Keep your doubts at bay by following this easy guide to dinner party planning.

   

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