Tag Archives: tips for home entertaining

Help! I’m Having a Party – How Much Wine do I Need?

wine-math-made-easy

Do the Wine Math: It’ll save your party every time.

I get asked a lot about how much wine is needed for a party and my answer is always the same: do the Wine Math.

No, it’s not New Math which is very complicated and completely unnecessary. It’s Old Math where we use addition, multiplication and a very small amount of division. All you need are some numbers to start.

Wine math is just that simple. First you have to know how many glasses are in a bottle. Then you need to figure out the kind of party you’re having, how long it will last, the number of people that are coming, and exactly who you’ve invited (meaning what type of wine drinkers they are). Once you figure all of that out, it’s a very quick calculation.

Of course, if you’re having a break-up pity party with just you and a friend then who cares about math at all? Important fact:  two very large mason jars will hold about a bottle of wine.  Simply add your favorite chick flick and you’re good to go!

Let’s get back to the very important wine math. A standard bottle of wine is 750 ml which is approximately 25 ounces.  You will find that the suggested serving of a glass of wine is 5 ounces so that would mean that each bottle would pour about 5 glasses.  However, I don’t think anyone pours exactly 5 ounces of wine – it usually ends up closer to 6 ounces – which means that, on average, a bottle of wine will hold about 4 glasses of wine.  Use that as your ‘rule of thumb’.

So, think about how your guests will drink.  You will pour one glass before dinner, a couple more will be consumed during the meal, and probably one more after dinner.  That means, assuming that there are 4 glasses in a bottle, that you would need about one bottle per guest.  But, as I’ve said above, you also need to consider a couple of other variables before you hit the wine store.

Guest Count – hopefully your friends are the type that will actually RSVP and not just show up unannounced.  Always add two more people to the count because someone will bring a random extra that they ‘forgot’ to tell you about or you have that one friend who never RSVPs and never shows but who will decide to come to your fabulous event.

Here’s where you pull out the calculator for the wine math:

Multiply the number of guests times the number of estimated glasses filled per guest.
THEN divide that number by 4 (approximate glasses per bottle) and that equals the number of bottles needed.

How much wine will they drink? Nobody can perfectly predict this but there are a couple of ‘rules’ that you can always depend on.  If your guests at least like wine they will drink one glass in the first hour but if they enjoy wine or even love it the number will be closer to 2 glasses in that first hour.  For each hour after that add one more glass to the count.  Following this logic – if your party will last about 4 hours most will drink close to 5 glasses of wine. You will need both a red and a white and enough of each in case most of your guests want to drink one or the other.

Now, if you’re like me and you are pouring Champagne, the whole calculation goes out the window because a bottle of bubbles will pour approximately 8 champagne flutes.  Unless, however, you’re at my house then a bottle will only hold 6-7 flutes because I have really large champagne glasses!

See? “Wine math” made easy. Now go and enjoy your party!

Wines in the picture:

Sophisticated Living – What is it?

sophisticated_living

More important, how to I obtain it?

I often talk about sophisticated living and how everyone can live their lives that way.  But, I think many people are confused about what I mean and how to achieve it in their daily routines.

Most people assume that to live a sophisticated lifestyle you have to have a lot of money and spend it lavishly.  I’m here to tell you that sophisticated living has absolutely nothing to do with how rich you are or your spending habits.  Instead, it has everything to do with putting effort into what you choose to surround yourself with – the items you touch on a daily basis, the things that you use not only with your family but also with your friends and colleagues when you entertain.  It has to do with everything that lives behind the cabinet doors in your home.

Your cabinets should be filled with things you enjoy touching and using, the feel of them, the weight and balance of a favorite kitchen knife or dining fork, even the casual water glass you use on a daily basis.  They don’t have to be silver or cut crystal – they just have to be something you love to use.  That’s not to say that I don’t love beautiful silver and crystal (because I do!) but everything doesn’t have to be formal and it definitely doesn’t have to belong to only one manufacturer or only one pattern.

The things that we surround ourselves with and use are a reflection of ourselves and should be items that we love to share with others.  Whether it’s because they have a great story to tell or are handed down from someone we loved or because we simply happened upon them on a trip!  They could be the silliest BBQ plates that were found in a second-hand shop on a road trip that turn a casual afternoon barbecue into a long night of laughter.  All of these contribute to sophisticated living.

The photo includes some of my most cherished items – the one piece of silver my mother had (the simple Revere Bowl), the first champagne glasses I ever purchased when I was 21, the beautiful Baccarat Mille Nuits champagne flutes that were a gift from my best friend that started my collection, the box of salt cellars that are clearly missing one little dish and two spoons but were so sweet I had to buy them from an antique dealer, various silver serving pieces bought at flea markets all over the world – even my cherished wooden cooking spoon (burn marks and all) that I’ve moved from home to home over the last 40 years.  All of these items are a reflection of me, who I am and what I want to share.

The joy has been in the collecting of these things and it continues every time I reach for one of them to use.

We love our Avocados GREEN

You love green avocados

An easy to remember trick to keep your cut avocados from turning that unappetizing brown.

If you have been following me for a while, you know that I collect little stories about this and that. I think that’s one of the skills that a home entertaining expert should have: being able to dole out a quick story for any moment or situation. It’s better than trying to crack the ice at a party with talk about the weather. Right?

Here are a few tidbits about avocados.

If you haven’t heard, the avocado is actually a fruit. Botanically, they belong to the same plant group as do laurels. So, basically, we eat what amounts to an enormous berry that has a single large seed.

Originally, avocados were thought to have come from Mexico. A while back, a friend of mine who is an anthropologist (yeah, I have one of those too), told me that there was some new evidence that suggests that avocados started off as several distinct varieties that came from Peru, the Guatemalan highlands, and along the Central American isthmus. They’ve even found the remains of an avocado plant that they think is 15,000 years old!  It’s crazy that avocados have been around for that long.

Now for the practical part.

I love avocados. They’ve always been one of the staples in my home – ready to slice and eat at a moment’s notice. They’re a great “go-to” easy snack for friends who drop by and perfect for salads, sliced with veggies, or as guacamole (more on that later).  Don’t forget the ever popular avocado toast that you find in almost every restaurant and that is so incredibly easy to duplicate at home!

The downside for avocados – they have an enzyme called polyphenol oxidase that causes our tasty fruit to start browning almost immediately after cutting. This is really inconvenient when you want to save half in the fridge for tomorrow’s snack. I mean, who wants to spread brown avocado on toast? Seriously.

Everyone has their own little trick to keep their avocados from turning brown. Twenty years in the restaurant business – I’ve heard them all, seen them all and tried them all!

One of the most popular tricks is my least favorite: drip lime or lemon juice on the cut parts, which is the same trick we use on cut apples. It works but, in my honest opinion, not very well. They still turn brown after about 4 hours and then the avocado has an extra flavor that you might not want.

Then there’s the one about keeping the pit attached. I don’t know why, but it seems to work for about 4 hours or so, and then the oxidization starts. The big downside is that the pit has to be attached to the uncut half. You can’t add the pit back to an avocado that’s been sliced.

The fact is, many of us will eat an avocado that’s been stored in the fridge and has browned a bit, but not for company consumption.  So, a near miss just doesn’t cut it for me. If it’s going to work, it has to work really well.

The best method – tested in my own kitchen – place the cut half of an onion into an airtight container with your cut avocado. The onion releases sulfur dioxide which is a natural preservative – which puts a full stop on the browning. The great plus for this method is that it’ll keep cut avocados nice and fresh (cubed, sliced, peeled) for about 24 hours! And now you have a little onion to add to that toast.

See my video on this method. And enjoy your avocado!