We’re officially entering the celebration season, and as a number of intimate dinner parties and long lunches begin to pepper our social calendars in the lead up to Christmas, it seems like a fitting time to brush up on our hosting skills.
Award-winning vineyard Cloudy Bay has become known for signature long lunches, and this year, they chose to celebrate the release of their iconic Sauvignon Blanc 2023 vintage by hosting an intimate gathering in collaboration with FQ muse and tastemaker Polly Markus. According to her, the secret to great hosting lies in creating a comfortable and enjoyable atmosphere – with good food and exceptional wine at the heart of the experience.
Following this year’s Wonderscape experience, Markus had a few top tips to share to those of us who have hosting events on the horizon. So should you find yourself wondering what wines to offer to your guests or how to style a chic tablescape, read on, and discover how to make your soiree a truly unforgettable one.
Styling an effortless tablescape
“A tablescape lets the wine and food shine and is all about making those gathered around it feel immersed in the moment,” says Markus. “To achieve an effortless tablescape, add colour through in season floral arrangements, making sure they hit no higher than the chin to not obstruct conversation. Consider texture and warmth through your choice of fabric and plateware. Objects with intrigue are a great way to bring interest to serveware. Using a large scallop shell for salt, pepper or butter looks beautiful.”
“Throughout each course, use different wine glasses to elevate the long lunch experience.”
Creating the perfect menuscape
Warm bread is a classic starter, and it’s easy to elevate with a few simple accompaniments.
“Elevate your antipasti by warming olives and serving with fresh orange peel or lemon zest in olive oil, and serve warm bread with accompaniments such as dukkah and quality olive oil,” recommends Markus. “This sets the palette and atmosphere for what is to come.”
For your proteins, try and source interesting rubs and marinades to give dishes your own twist. Use plenty of herbs to brighten dishes, both during cooking and as a garnish. According to Markus, visuals can influence the whole experience.
“Guests eat with their eyes, so keep presentation front of mind,” she says.
And while it can be tempting to create a showstopper dessert, often your guests will relish finishing off their meal with a simple classic. It’s hard to go wrong with pavlova and plenty of berries, served with a glass of Pinot Noir.
“When it comes to dessert, keep it simple with something classic.”
Uplifting beats create the soundscape
“The right playlist should take your guests on a journey as they enjoy the sights, smells and tastes around them.”
“If you have a record player hiding away, this is the time to put it on display. Cool and classy background tunes set the scene and mean guests can easily converse throughout the experience.”
Having the right selection of wines
Alongside the new Sauvignon Blanc, Cloudy Bay has released its elegant new pack design on its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay bottles, showcasing a reinterpretation of the famously minimalist label refined and embossed to trace the silhouette of the iconic Richmond Ranges.
Cloudy Bay is one of New Zealand’s finest wine producers, with vineyards spread between two emblematic wine regions, Marlborough and Central Otago. The winemakers of Cloudy Bay are true artisans, working in partnership with nature to translate the pure, aromatic flavours of New Zealand and its terroir in their iconic Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Cloudy Bay wines are meticulously crafted, designed to bring people together and elevate home entertaining to ensure that every occasion is a truly unforgettable one.
Experience Cloudy Bay
The 2023 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc vintage is available now at most wine retailers nationwide.
Wine lovers can experience the world of Cloudy Bay with exclusive events and Cloudy Bay wine offers. To sign up to the wine club, visit cloudybay.com