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Food & Drink

How to host a socially responsible wine party

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Holiday entertaining can be simple and affordable when equipped with the right tools and good wines.

How to host a socially responsible wine party

2020 has been a strange year. For many, navigating our COVID-impacted world while maintaining traditions, like holiday parties, can be a challenge. In light of the pandemic and the need to socially distance, virtual events are the go-to replacement for in-person activities this season. Whether it’s an office social, a quick catch-up, or a shared meal with close friends and family members. As an added bonus, these types of get-togethers can be ver inclusive as they can bring people together from across the country and even the world.

While hosting a socially responsible virtual gathering isn’t difficult, it just requires a little bit of planning. For festive occasions, celebrating safely starts with putting together a guest list and choosing the type of event. Whether it’s an intimate group or large-scale virtual drop-in, do consider a dress code for the event to get everyone into the holiday spirit. Perhaps it’s a casual social with everyone donning their best ugly sweater. Maybe it’s a glamorous night with guests in their cocktail best. Any choice of themed attire – from the waist up – is fair game.

It’s also important to set the right ambience. Put on a playlist and a festive background. If you’re sitting at a table, decorate the table and place settings. If you’re broadcasting from another place, like the couch, add some holiday-themed ornaments or fixtures around the area that’s seen onscreen.

When choosing the ideal live stream platform, be sure to have the proper set up and internet bandwidth requirements for hosting. Next, secure an accommodating date and time to connect with attendees – especially if they are in a different time zone or have other commitments to consider. Finally, include all those details – including event link – in the (online) invitation.

From a virtual wine and cheese night to a virtual dinner party, a successful and memorable experience also includes delicious food and drink options. In keeping with the shared experience, consider inviting guests to partake in the same menu. For an interactive option, forgo store-bought prepared foods or takeaway. Instead, provide guests with simple, crowd-pleasing recipes in the invitation that can be prepared before or during the virtual party that can be enjoyed together with group and budget-friendly wine suggestions, such as those from Mezzacorona.

Since 1904, Mezzacorona has a time-honoured tradition in quality winemaking. The authentic Italian estate-bottled product is certified by the Non-GMO Project and made in Trentino using top quality sustainably-farmed grapes. Cultivated in the foothills of the Italian Dolomites, Mezzacorona’s vines are grown following the traditional pergola system which permits the ventilation of its free-hanging fruit by the natural wild breeze from over 400 lakes and glaciers in the surrounding region.

The hand-picked grapes are transformed by winemaker Lucio Matricardi into full-bodied and elegant single-varietal Estate Grown wines that express the grapes’ unique alpine environment. These attributes can be savoured alone or paired with food.

Start the celebration with low-fuss nibbles including antipasti or crudités and a toast with Mezzacorona’s pinot grigio while waiting for attendees to log in.

Made with grapes hand-harvested at their optimum ripeness, the delightful wine is fresh and crisp with refreshing green apple aromas, honeysuckle creaminess and mineral finish. As the largest Italian estate producer of pinot grigio, Mezzacorona’s wine has also won multiple awards including Gold and Silver, respectively, at 2019 and 2020 Mundus Vini international wine competition, awarded with 91 pts at the 2019’s Ultimate Wine Challenge, and amongst Wine Enthusiast “Best Buy” of 2020. It’s also a great option for imbibers who enjoy pinot blanc or pinot gris.

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Mezzacoronoa’s pinot grigio shines with most appetizers, soups, pasta, white meats and fish dishes. While the light, medium-bodied wine works well with summer fare, it can provide a welcomed contrast to the blustery winter weather. More robust and woodsy herbs like sage, rosemary and thyme that are typically used to flavour roasts, stews and other rich dishes work well with the green notes exhibited by Mezzacorona’s pinot grigio. The complementary flavours can be experienced in a light starter such as a salad made with valerian (aka lamb’s lettuce or mâche) and roast chicken, which sounds fancy, but is incredibly easy to make.

As host, the first course is a good time to check in on guests. Invite everyone to show off their creation, share updates, and to keep everyone engaged in conversation, have a few icebreaker topics on hand including memories that can be relived together.

While attendees chat, invite those cooking to start preparing the next course. Hearty dishes like spaghetti with mushrooms have an earthy profile that pairs well with Mezzacorona’s award-winning pinot noir not only because of the smooth, medium-body fruity wine’s floral aroma but also for the light red wine’s native tangy acidity. Made using grapes harvested from small plots along the Adige valley, the wine is also fantastic with charcuterie, roasted poultry and red meats. Unlike the prices typically commanded by the varietal, Mezzacorona’s pinot noir is relatively inexpensive making the ability to savour its bright red cherry, blackberry and blood orange flavours all the sweeter.

Finish the night off with a simple spread of cheese, biscuits or chocolate truffles. For something a little more elaborate, a final course featuring crème brûlée or brie and fresh fruits pair nicely with Mezzacorona’s pinot grigio, while a flourless chocolate cake or nutty gruyere goes wonderfully with the pinot noir.

Besides the opportunity for guests to while away the evening savouring good food, wine and company, the bonus with virtual gatherings is forgoing the need for a designated driver. Socializing and drinking responsibly has never been easier or more delicious!

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For more recipe and pairing suggestions including crostini topped with olive paté or a barley risotto made with speck and radicchio, head to https://www.mezzacorona.it/en-us/pairings. For a limited time, save $3 on Mezzacorona’s pinot noir and magnum size of pinot grigio. Offer available until January 3rd at the LCBO.

Mezzacorona Pinot Grigio, 750ml, LCBO, $14.95, 1500ml, LCBO, $22.95.

Mezzacorona Pinot Noir, 750ml, LCBO, $11.95.

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