Here comes the sun. Here comes the heat. Here come endless evenings, firm friends and fine wines. It’s summer party season, and — from intimate dinners to sweeping, hundred-strong soirees — every host wants the most talked-up, hands-down popular party in town.
But how to throw the best bash under this sizzling sun? Whether you’re only inviting close friends and family, celebrating a once-in-a-lifetime milestone or whipping together an impromptu afternoon, there are certain tips and tricks you can employ to ensure your party brims and bubbles with all the excitement and verve it deserves.
And who better to lay down these sparkling statutes than Nyetimber? The effervescent British brand has been growing prize-winning grapes on West Sussex’s chalky slopes since 1988, where varieties from Pinot Meunier to green Chardonnay help create fizzes from multi-vintage cuvees to an incredible Blanc de Blancs. So pop a couple of corks, fill your flutes and learn how to throw the most sparkling summer party possible…
Invite the most interesting, fun people you know
Every event begins with a good guest list. Who should you invite? Do you bring your friends and family crashing together? Should social groups be left separate, or swirled together on one long, intoxicating list of invitees?
“A good party starts with an eclectic guest list,” Nyetimber advises. “When guests from different backgrounds, friendship groups and age brackets begin to connect, you know your gathering is a success. Of course, good sparkling wine helps lift everyone’s spirits. Inviting should be spontaneous and honest: listen to your intuition and create a list that includes your perfect guests and people you’d want to meet at a party”.
Begin your bash with a welcoming aperitif
Next up, once you’ve curated a collection of your most party-minded connections, it’s time to open a bottle or two of fine sparkling wine. We’d recommend Nyetimber’s signature Classic Cuvee Multi-Vintage; a perfectly-balanced blend with sufficiently tastebud-teasing notes of pastry and baked apple. With its intensity and delicacy, it is perhaps the perfect aperitif.
“And an aperitif is the opening elixir to any party,” explains Nyetimber. “The chance to walk around, introduce yourself to new people, and break the ice with a refreshing drink will set you off to a delightful evening, no matter what plans you have afterwards. The aperitif makes guests feel welcome, works as a prop, and helps shake off inhibitions typical of early evenings.”
Use the apertif-pouring process to break the ice
The course of a summer party never runs smooth. But, even if your gathering does go off the rails, a great conversation-starter is just an ice bucket away. By toting a bottle of bubbly and topping up your guests’ glasses, you afford yourself the opportunity to mingle and mix — both breaking the ice and making connections.
“Make the move to promptly top up someone’s glass ,” says Nyetimber. “Or offer someone a glass if they’re empty-handed. They’ll immediately warm up to you, and conversation will naturally start flowing. Secondly, some wine trivia can be delicately sprinkled into the conversation, showing your discernment and getting attention – but don’t overdo it!”
Put on a show — and create some memorable moments
“At Nyetimber, we’re passionate about the subtle details that create unforgettable memories,” says the brand. “So make sure you plan an evening with plenty of creative surprises – from an unexpected napkin embroidery to unusual canapés.
“Live music can also liven things up,” adds Nyetimber, “Whilst a jeroboam creates a statement party piece – and everyone will gather to help you pour or just to fill up their glass! You could also put on a show with a well-thought-out dress code and theme”.
Ensure your food pairs perfectly with your wine
Once you sit down to eat — because every party should serve at least some food — ensure that your dishes dovetail neatly with your wine. Nyetimber acknowledges that, while pairings are ultimately personal, there are certain marriages that manage to elevate both your fizz and the food.
“Our Classic Cuvee, for instance, pairs perfectly with seafood,” says the brand, “from fresh oysters to sushi. Slightly sweeter, created to take Nyetimber to match with new culinary territories, our Cuvee Chérie Multi-Vintage works with classic English desserts such as strawberries and cream, as well as aromatic cuisines of Japan, China and Thailand. We also heard it makes a delightful brunch drink, too”.
Remember to provide ample seating and shade
And, finally, plan your party from start to end. While the sun may be shining at the beginning of the day — in which case, you should prepare a cool, shaded seating area to keep your guests comfortable — it might get chillier as the evening draws on. But you should still take advantage of these higher temperatures, and throw an al fresco party if you can.
“A good setting helps any party,” says Nyetimber. “Summer gatherings tend to be associated with settings including gardens, rooftops and such. If you’re in the UK, we recommend a plan B, as the weather can turn on you and your guests. But taking a calculated risk and going al fresco for summer evenings is always a yes. And you should add flowers or foliage to create an escapist look — especially if you’re setting a dinner table”.
Looking to serve up some al fresco food? These are the 4 best pizza ovens to fire up this summer…
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