A (SURPRISINGLY) FRUGAL GUIDE TO ENTERTAINING WITH BUBBLY
They call it a champagne party; a Parisian-inspired concept in which you invite all your most sociable friends over to your chic apartement for a sophisticatedly tipsy evening filled with the sonorous sounds of clinking glasses and passionate chit-chat. Admittedly, there are some who might see such a party as terribly bourgeois, but they don’t need to be invited. And despite its luxurious air of “spared no expense”, a bubbly party can be a very cost-effective alternative to hosting, say, a three-course dinner. To really nail a bubbly party, however, there are just a few rules to keeping it unforgettably understated and elegant.
GET THE FOOD JUST RIGHT
Imagine inviting Goldilocks to your dinner party, only she’s all grown-up and did her postgraduate at the Sorbonne. No less fussy than when she stumbled upon that bear-inhabited cottage but also of legal drinking age. For a bubbly party, the food – more than anything else – must be “just so”. For that reason, you can never go wrong with oysters on ice with wedges of lemon. It’s the most classic pairing for a reason, but depending on your whereabouts and their availability, you might need seriously deep pockets.
Bubbly pairs with a lot of food, which is why – even if it often fetches a higher price point than regular wine – making it the star of the show can simplify proceedings, not to mention keep your costs relatively low.
When considering your party menu, create a spread of creamy cheeses (think brie and camembert-style cheese), blue cheese, charcuterie and saucisson (that’s not too fatty), nuts, black and green olives, fruit (red and white grapes are a winner), and figs (when in season. To bulk up your spread, opt for a fresh crusty loaf (like a baguette-style bread or ciabatta if you’re not being a French purist). Crackers are a great addition too, although seldom encountered at a traditionally French champagne party.
DON’T DROP THE BALL WITH A BAD POUR
You’ve set the scene, the house smells expensive, everything that should glitter does, the food is just right… now for pouring the bubbly. What you don’t want is to come across like you’ve never done this before, or the spell is broken.
- First, and this is non-negotiable. Make sure your bubbly is ice cold. Chill it at least 24 hours before your guests arrive, so this is one of those buy-it-the-day-before scenarios.
- To open, place your thumb in the “punt” of the bottle. That’s the inverted dome that reaches into the interior from the base.
- At the same time, balance the neck of the bottle on the side of the glass, which you’re holding at a 45° angle from the bottle (kind of like you’d pour beer). This will cause the bubbles to foam less than when you pour, then aim.
- Then, only fill the glass to about two-thirds, never to the top.
MAKE A SCENE
Ok, let’s tone that down a notch, actually. You don’t really want to make a scene. The operative words are “effortless elegance”. Saying that, this is totally the time to bring out your grandmother’s silverware and those mismatched champagne coupes you found at that klein dorpie antiques fair a few years ago.
Getting the atmosphere of your bubbly party just right is all about priorities. Don’t skimp on the important things, like choosing the right bubbly and picking out your most beautiful homeware for the occasion, but you don’t need to overdress the table with countless ornaments, decorative produce and a small taxidermy zoo either. Opt for simple but chic plates (with a few vintage pieces thrown in for good measure). And whatever you do, don’t forget the flowers.
A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC
Maybe Mozart isn’t exactly what you should be going for. Instead, go for casual and up-tempo – something jazzy, frenzied at times even, with the occasional conversation starter (like French hip-hop) thrown in for fun. Nothing rounds a dinner party off like a well-chosen playlist. To get you started, try our ultimate dinner party playlist.
FINALLY FOR THE FASHION
Unlike that awards event you were invited to recently, this is not the time for a red-carpet-ready revenge dress… unless it IS time for a revenge dress, in which case you are entirely at liberty to do as you wish. In all other instances, go for comfort and wearability, like a great pair of jeans and a flattering top that leaves something to the imagination… unless… nevermind.
IN FINE COMPANY
It was Coco Chanel who said, “I only drink Champagne on two occasions, when I’m in love and when I’m not.” She was onto something. Bubbly brings about a sense of euphoria you can only compare to a feeling of falling in love, which is why, whenever we want to celebrate, it’s the drink of choice. Effervescent elegance in a glass, De Grendel’s beautifully balanced Cap Classique is the perfect companion to any celebration. Whether marking a personal milestone – just by yourself – or hosting a lavish gathering of family and friends, popping the cork reveals a lavish explosion of bubbles that gives way to fresh lemon and lime flavours, balanced by a lemon-cream richness that lingers with a mineral green apple crispness. It’s celebrating with the utmost style.