I recently read an article about the death of the dinner party. It was an interesting read but it left me with mixed emotions. The article argued we have veered away from hosting sit-down dinner parties in our homes to instead gathering with friends at restaurants. And I agree, my husband and I find this form of entertainment effortless. But, at the same time I couldn’t wait to host my next dinner party!

There are many reasons why the classic dinner party isn’t as popular as it used to be — the obvious is the ease of meeting at a restaurant; but also time and planning; logistics of having enough dishes, glassware, flatware or chairs; limited cooking ability; and perhaps most tragic, that conservation and hosting may be becoming lost arts.

Another reason? Traditional dinner parties are viewed as stuffy, formal affairs. My suggestion is to move away from the formal setting and make the occasion casual.

An easy way of doing this is making the wine the central conversation piece of your gathering. Consider hosting a dinner with only three courses. Nothing complex, just a salad to start, main course and end with a dessert. I will leave the preparation to you but remember there is nothing wrong with picking up your courses from a local restaurant and serving them on your dishes. Pair each course with its own wine.

FIRST COURSE

Most salads will have high acid ingredients such as tomatoes, citrus and certain cheeses including goat, feta or cheddar. They pair best with high-acid wines like sauvignon blanc, riesling, Champagne or sparkling wines. To make this course an easy match avoid serving the salad with an assertive vinaigrette.

THE VALUE

  • BV Coastal Sauvignon Blanc, California (about $11 retail)

THE SPLURGE

  • Cliff Lede Sauvignon Blanc, California (about $26 retail)

MAIN COURSE

Let your main course be an easy dish you have already mastered. Remember, the goal of your dinner party is just casual conversation and a relaxed setting. If a pasta dish is one of your specialties or you are a grill master, then that’s what you should serve. Just use your cooking confidence to prepare a main course stress free to you. Keep it simple with a light bodied red wine.

THE VALUE

  • Aime Boucher Pinot Noir, France (about $13 retail)

THE SPLURGE

  • A to Z Oregon Pinot Noir, Oregon (about $21 retail)

DESSERT

There is nothing wrong with grabbing a dessert from your local grocer. And remember your wine can also be your dessert.

THE VALUE

  • Chateau Hallet Sauternes, France (about $20 retail, 375 mL)

THE SPLURGE

  • Jackson Triggs Vidal Icewine, Canada (about $28 retail, 187 mL)