The week between Christmas and New Year’s my parents hosted a fabulous party for Nicolas and me, which turned out to be quite the celebration. We had decided a French theme would be appropriate, so before leaving France, Nicolas made mix CD’s of Edith Piaf and Jacques Brel and Serge Gainsbourg and found room in his suitcase for such delicacies as authentic French spice bread and chocolates (all of which made it across the Atlantic unscathed). The day of the party we made Quiche Lorraine (which I am cutting in the “action shot” above), and scattered cards identifying all the French foods on the decorated table.
But nevermind the food. What about the wine? Comical as it is, we received more compliments and inquiries about our wine selection than about our decorative array of Frenchie hors d’oeuvres. To be honest, I couldn’t be more delighted. Dad, Nicolas, and I had devoted quite a bit of time — and two trips to the wine store — to our reds and whites, and we wanted them to be special.
Of course they had to be French.
We had chosen two whites, a Vouvray and a Picpoul, and two reds, both Grenache blends from southern France. Dad encouraged me to write little identification cards for each wine as I had for the food.
And that’s how the wine stole the show from our mini macarons and baked brie.
As you can see, I had a lot of fun. How did I know “picpoul” meant “lip stinger?” I looked it up! I looked up all four of the wines and was just squirming with excitement to share what I learned. I had to take notes and narrow down the choices of what I wanted to share in order to fit a few short tidbits onto the cards. At the bottom of each, to bring it closer to home, I wrote the time it would take by car to travel from each vineyard to Dijon.
The cards not only helped people choose which wine to try, they also became conversation starters. (“Five hours and twenty-three minutes from Dijon? I love it!”) Some people told me they had never heard of Pigeoulet before, but they liked it. One friend said she felt compelled to taste all four. Most flattering was the elegant lady who was still talking about the wine days after the party. Calling to ask the name of the Vouvray, she gushed, “It’s the best wine I’ve had in my life.”
Wow! What a compliment!
I should note that the food was well appreciated too. After all, many more hours were spent creating Mom’s beautiful spread than on our well-researched wine selection. But sheesh, it seems with the wine as center of attention we might simply have served mixed nuts and gougères and everyone would have been just as happy.
A lesson for future celebrations?