It isn’t every day that we have an occasion to gather good friends, eat amazing food and drink fabulous wine. While we all wish it were an everyday occurrence, more realistically we may be able to pull it off every couple of months.
After visiting my aunt and uncle down in Chapel Hill, NC, I was feeling the need to connect with my friends and get everyone together for a fun, low-cost night. It just so happens my fantastic aunt gave me a book that teaches you how to pair wine with food (who knew it was a science!). A few texts later, and me and my friends had set up a dinner party for mid-week. Then, it changed, and changed again.
Instead of a wine pairing dinner, we would do a wine tasting event! And instead of a wine tasting event, why not test our taste buds and go for blind tasting? With that, our blind-taste test was set up and all that needed doing was figuring out a menu, buying the wine and cleaning up the apartment….the latter is easier said than done!
My partner in crime, Antoine, helped figure out what we’d eat (a big green salad with fresh veggies, filet mignon, and lightly sauteed scallops in a butter sauce), and I worked out what wines to get with my aunt. Our goal was to stay under $50 total for the wine (6 bottles!) and thanks to TJ’s low prices and high-quality wine, we were able to do just that…talk about affordable!
While at Trader Joe’s, I perused the flower section and picked up three bouquets of flowers–two of roses (one traditional, and the other African roses with small blooms) and one mixed bouquet including a sunflower stem, more roses, daisies, and huge lilies just waiting to burst open.
I used some of my roomie’s craft paper to cover all the wine bottles and to keep their identities a secret–not even I knew which was which! Then, I printed some simple wine-tasting templates, and was free to focus on the flowers.
The first step was conditioning the flowers. The night before the dinner party, I took the blooms out of their plastic bundles and cut all elastics from their stems, to let them soak easy over night. The following afternoon after work, I got to work on arranging them. I knew I wanted on arrangement in the ice bucket, since it seemed apropos for the occasion, and one arrangement for the bathroom.
For the ice bucket, because the opening was wide, I knew I had to cut the stems shorter than usual to keep the space between blooms tighter. I started with the sunflower since it was the largest and heaviest stem in the bunch. From there, I placed the lilies around the bucket, and filled in with white daisies and roses to balance out the big statement blooms. Here’s what I ended up with:
Once that was all set up, I was left with a mostly purple palette and a small fishbowl vase to arrange in for the bathroom. Again, I worked down from the largest bloom to the smallest and filled in with the more delicate stems to balance it out. Here’s how the smaller arrangement turned out:
And finally, even after these two bigger arrangements, I had a number of the small, white African roses leftover. I used a little white cylinder vase I picked up in North Carolina (to the left in the container photo above), to make an all-white statement. When that look left something to be desired I tucked a small twig of these little purple fillers, and suddenly, to me, it seemed perfect. It ended up in my room, and has been a lovely living addition:
And voila, I was ready for the dinner party to start! It was a huge success, and while we may not have guessed the wine varietals correctly, our palettes were tested, and we had a TON of fun trying to guess what the flavors were in each, and what that could mean about the wine itself. In case anyone else wants to DIY their own blind wine-tasting party, TJ’s employees are a wealth of information and can offer their own opinions on what to try!