Create a setting amongst grapevines, wine, cheeses and fruits to bestow a romantic and rustic theme for your shower. The rich colors and natural elements feels like a day spent outside during harvest. Welcome your shower guests with a wine tasting and cheese, serve an inspired, family-style dinner that harnesses the aged grape’s sweet and savory flavors and incorporate your vintage affection with a creative party favor.
We used zigzag branches from the craft store in a textured glass vase to create our “grape vine.” Chianti bottles made for a charming backdrop, while moss, branch spheres and black or red grapes evoke feelings of a meal shared in a vineyard. Stage with rich linens and place settings of gold, brown and deep reds plucked from the colors of nature.
What to Serve:
Red Wine Pasta
- 1 ½ tsp. minced fresh garlic
- 1 lb. lean ground beef or Italian sausage, or omit for vegetarian recipe
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup dry red wine
- 2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans petite diced tomatoes, with juice
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 12 ounces uncooked thin spaghetti
- 1/3 cup fresh grated Parmesan and fresh basil leaves to garnish
1. Sauté garlic in hot oil in a large skillet over medium heat 1 minute or until lightly browned. Carefully stir in wine and next 4 ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes or until thickened.
2. While the sauce is simmering, brown large pieces (about quarter size) of Italian sausage or ground beef until juices run clear. Add to sauce for the last 10 minutes of cooking time.
3. Once complete, remove sauce from heat and let sit. Quick tip: The longer it sits, the better it tastes, as the flavors have a chance to blend well together.
4. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.
5. Pour tomato sauce over pasta mixture, and toss to combine. Add fire roasted tomatoes (see below). Serve immediately with desired toppings.
Fire Roasted Tomatoes
• 10 plum tomatoes halved lengthwise
• ½ cup olive oil, divided
• 3 tsp. garlic, minced
• 1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
• ½ tsp. crushed red pepper
• ½ tsp. sea salt
• ¼ tsp. coarse ground pepper
1. Place tomato halves, cut-sides up in a foil lined cookie pan, sprayed with no stick cooking spray. Mix ¼ cup oil, garlic and seasonings in a small bowl then spoon over tomatoes. Drizzle with 2 tbsp of remaining oil.
2. Roast in preheated 400ºF oven 45 to 60 minutes, or until tomatoes are soft and browned on top.
3. Place half of tomatoes and remaining oil in bowl. Coarsely mash tomatoes with fork. Add to pasta and red wine sauce and top with Parmesan, to taste.
Merlot Berries and Cream
• 8 oz. mascarpone cheese or whipped cream
• 2/3 cup sugar
• 2 ½ cups Merlot or other dry wine
• 1 tsp. lemon juice
• 6 cups sliced strawberries
1. Heat wine, lemon juice and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat until mixture is simmering, about 10-12 minutes.
2. Remove from heat and stir in strawberries. Let mixture cool in the pan approx. 1 hour.
3. Ladle the strawberries and liquid into wineglasses or goblets. Top with whipped cream.
• Cardboard gift boxes $1.99 each
• Natural Wood Wine Bottle Stopper $9.00 each
• Branch pieces $.99 for the bunch
• White craft glue $.99
• Tissue paper $.99
Gift boxes, branches and tissue paper were purchased at Michaels. Wine bottle stopper was purchased at BevMo; however thrift, antique or beverage specialty store finds work well. Use craft glue to attach sticks to box tops in varying patterns. You can also opt for wine tags, cork screws, coasters, wine charms or drip rings for a thoughtful, inexpensive gift.
What to Drink
Wine Tasting Menu
We used three different types of wine, to include Merlot, Chianti and Pinot Grigio. You can stick with red or white, but a diverse selection is sure to please everyone’s palate. Have some club soda or tonic water on hand for wine spritzers.
At the reception table, we staged a wine tasting table, complete with breadsticks and cheeses for the palate. We used soft cheeses (brie and herb-rolled goat cheese) with mild crackers and breadsticks, as to not overshadow the flavors of the wine.
Create a paper template for the Tasting Menu with at least three circles and fill in the type of wine you are serving. Each guest can try three varieties to determine their favorite to enjoy throughout the shower. The stemless barware was purchased at IKEA for approximately $10 (for 12). You will need at least 3 glasses for each guest.