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Summertime Wine & Dine




The notion of traditional outdoor entertaining often entails backyard cookouts or pool parties featuring umbrella drinks and a menu of items served on a bun. While I enjoy a casual vibe from time to time, why not try an outdoor wine tasting party instead? There is no reason why a soiree that usually takes place in your living room cannot  be transformed into a sun-soaked celebration. Is there any better place to sip a glass of bubbles than on a chaise lounge, watching the sunset over the Front Range?

I have created your personal “how-to” guide to walk you through each step, from where to buy food and wine to tips for setting up a guest-friendly tasting. You will also find a warm-weather finger-food menu that combines fresh Colorado farmers' market finds and make-ahead steps that will help you keep your cool. I have also offered two fool-proof pairing options for each hors d'oeuvre. Enjoy the best in outdoor entertaining at a very special wine party....à bientôt!

Menus
Station 1
Dungeness Crab & Olathe Corn Cakes with Lemon Confit
MouCo Camembert Tartlettes with Fresh Palisades Peach Compote
Recommended wines:
Veuve Clicquot NV Brut Gruet NV Blanc de BlancStation 2
Grilled Chicken Drummettes with Ancho-Cherry Glaze
Proscuitto Wrapped Asparagus Bundles with Balsamic Reduction
Recommended wines:
Solo Rosa California Rosé 2006
Tohu Marlborough Pinot Noir 2005Station 3
James Ranch "Belford” Chive Gougères
Madhava Honey Glazed Baby Colorado Lamb Chops
Recommended wines:
Cosentino “The Zin” California Zinfandel 2005
Beckmen Vineyards “Cuvée Le Bec” 2005 with flavor

Follow these five no-fail planning tips for an outdoor party made in the shade
Make Dates: Create a schedule outlining all of the tasks to accomplish and the dates by which you will complete them. Consider all of the shopping, housecleaning and errands. Consult the recipes and stick to your schedule!

Get Help: Make party day easier by hiring an extra set of hands to help with cooking prep, service and clean up. Contact any local culinary school (Cook Street School of Fine Cooking, Johnson & Wales, or Colorado Institute of Art) to find trained helpers.

Do ‘em a Favor: Create memorable goodie bags containing a unique wine key, a handwritten note card listing the wines poured at your party, and a copy of the fabulous mixed CD you will spin (see “What's On My Playlist” for suggestions).

Go Alternative: No time to make hors d'oeuvres? Your party can still succeed. Head to your local farmers' market or specialty store for a mouth-watering selection of local cheeses, freshly baked breads, savory dips, and other goodies.

Chill Out: Every experienced host or hostess knows that the most important planning step is to take 15 minutes to yourself (before the guests arrive) to relax and savor all that you have done to pull off your event. Pour yourself a glass of bubbles, pat yourself on the back, and get ready to have an unforgettable wine tasting party!

Click here to see some wine must-haves.

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