Sunday, February 4, 2018

18 Bottles of Wine on the Wall

I'm alone in a hotel room in San Antonio. I'm here for work through Tuesday and already had dinner with one set of grandparents with a date set up with the others tomorrow. Step Up is playing in the Amazon app on my phone that's sitting next to my laptop with blogger up on the screen while HGTV plays silently on the giant TV across from my bed while peacocks roam the garden my room's balcony look out on. Step Up, laptop time, and resident peacocks. Basically, I'm living my best single life.

Speaking of living my best life - this was what I found on my kitchen counter when I woke up this morning. (I later discovered my newly restocked beer fridge was also empty.)

So Wine Party 2.0 was a success.

After visiting every store in Fort Worth, I went with a simple gold and silver theme because it already matches the rest of my living room and also I found the plates and tablecloths for $1 and the "cheers" napkins for $2. I found some red and pink sequins in my desk drawer from our Women's March sign decorating and BOOM, a mildly sparkly, slightly Valentine's inspired, wine party tablescape was born.

Everyone was bringing an appetizer or dessert and their wine entry for the contest. I made the cocktail meatball recipe I stole from a friend (they're SO good; recipe below because I love you), caprese skewers I made up thanks to the discovery of tiny mozzarella balls at Costco and Trader Joe's delicious balsamic glaze that James already pours on everything, and my dark chocolate bundt cake. And vodka punch. It was pink and I love a mixed cocktail at a party.

I brought out the 24 cheap wine glasses I bought for the last party ($16 for all at BB&B! so much sturdier and better than plastic and reusable! they live on the top shelf of our pantry until their service is required), a stack of brown wine bags I borrowed from our local grocery store, the score cards I made (that somehow, despite improvements, were STILL unclear to some people (you know who you are); next time we're having a longer orientation and a printed FAQ), all the kids' homework pencils, and a sign I bought at At Home for $3 on clearance.

"Love the wine you're with."

Sage advice. Unless your job is to score them. Then you should only love the wines that deserve it.

all due seriousness

The food was a random combination of delicious things. Just some light bacon-wrapped roasted butternut squash to cleanse your palette and ready yourself for your next taste of wine.

Somewhat unexpectedly we ended up with an 88% acceptance rate on my evite, so we had 28 people in our living room that is cut in half by a couch. Next time I'm moving the couch to the playroom and opening up the whole space. I can't imagine why I didn't do that this time? I must have gotten distracted by the sequins. Though people did spread out a little, including an offshoot that immediately went outside with a bottle of whiskey and were never seen from again.


One of my favorite things about our friends is how seriously they'll take a competitive task. Most people participated in the rating and the comments were a delight: "toothpastey," "communion wine," and "this makes up for that other one" were just a few of my faves.

After 90 mins or so of tasting and eating and tasting some more (and/or dumping out all your "tastes" into the sink halfway through because you're apparently incapable of pouring a small enough sample size to handle the 13 wine entries you have to try (me, that was me)), I collected the filled-in score cards and attempted to determine a winner. This was immediately impossible and I had to draft in my laptop, some Microsoft Excel, and two outside auditors.

"I love when you talk VB to me."

That's Visual Basic he's talking about and it was far and away my favorite line of the night.

After taking the AVERAGEIF of all columns (to control for those entries that some people skipped) AND, when we had a nail-biter between the top two, eliminating the one card that failed to rate both of those entries, we had a winner. A winner by 0.003 points.

I'm not sure what's happening in that picture, but I think one of my auditors just discovered his wine was the one that lost the top prize by three one-thousands of a point. Numbers can be so emotional.

Final standings: (1) Menage a Trois Silk Blend; (2) Bogle Cabernet Sauvignon; (3) Las Rocas (Old Vine Spanish Red).

Me announcing the final standings, possibly a capella(?), while balancing my laptop, phone, and notepad with the winners. I'm a one-person wine party circus act.

The winners received a bottle of my favorite champagne and wine socks.

Wine socks that I STOLE and WORE an hour later when it was 10 p.m. and I decided I didn't need to wear 3" heels anymore, and despite it being my house with all my clothes and the fact that I had just given those socks as a gift to someone else, I opened them and put them on and wore for the remainder of the party. I'm sorry guys, thirteen samples of wine is a lot. We're lucky I didn't try to open the champagne.


Post-tasting we all soaked up our losses by dancing to music from the late 90's and early 00's. "Back when music was good!" we cried, like every generation of old people ever.

My children came home from Tara's apartment at some point, maybe 10ish? The party was still going strong and this morning Claire told me with a judgy sigh, "there was a lot of screaming at your party mom."

I think our last guest left around 11:30. And since we're all paying babysitters by the hour, I consider this the highest of compliments.

I can't wait to do it again.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Tamara's Meatballs

3/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp minced onion (I use dried)
2 tsp horseradish
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried mustard
3 drops Tabasco
dash pepper

Meatballs (I use 1-2 bags of TJ's frozen party-size, or you can be an over-achiever and make your own)

1. Combine all sauce ingredients and stir in slow cooker.
2. Add meatballs.
3. Cook on low for 5 hours (or less; until meatballs are warm and the sauce has soaked in).
4. Eat so many you double it next time.


  1. For your next wine party - best napkins ever: (also she has so, so, so many good cards and gifts and I've given her so much of my $$$$)

    1. Omg those are AMAZING. I remember looking at her designs a while ago but clearly I need to check in more!

  2. That wine party sounds like fun! My aunt and uncle did something similar, but everyone brought 1 bottle they thought was the best and 1 they thought was the worst- very interesting results came out of those!

    So funny- this was on a blog I read today. You can make your own crunchwrap!

    1. I love pinch of yum!! How did I miss the Crunchwrap recipe?! I will make it immediately.

  3. This is random, but would you consider making a post of your favorite things at Trader Joe’s? I feel like you often mention things that I say, “I have to remember that next time I go!” And then I never remember it. But the balsamic glaze sounds delicious! And the wine party sounds like a great success!

    1. Yes!! This is an excellent idea. I mean, it’s going to be 50% of the store, but I can’t wait for the comments to make me buy/try even more!

  4. I pretty much don’t drink anymore because alcohol pretty much ensures that I will have a migraine but I really miss wine. Some days I feel weird about how much I miss it. Your party sounds awesome- I wish could think of a dry version to host myself!