Forget Parties: Throw a Soirée

Celebrate the year-end holidays with an elegant, contemporary fête
Forget Parties: Throw a Soirée

Soirées might sound a little old-fashioned, a little too formal, but if they're done right, they can be up-to-date and fun — sophisticated without being snooty, grown-up without being fussy.

Even the word sounds elegant — "soirée" (swah-RAY), from the French word for "evening," as in, "Let's make an evening of it." A soirée is a party without the party hats, an event where good conversation and wit take the place of corny games, where the hors d'oeuvres are closer to tapas-bar fare than tailgate snacks, where sugary punches are poured down the drain to make room for wine that sparkles in more than one way. Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards sparkling wines are perfectly suited to such swell occasions.

Soirées might sound a little old-fashioned, a little too formal, but if they're done right, they can be up-to-date and fun — sophisticated without being snooty, grown-up without being fussy.

Let your soirée express your own tastes and your own sense of style, but we have some general tips to get you started.

Choose a simple but elegant theme.

We love the idea of an all-white party. Deck your halls with your best crisp white linens, put sprays of white flowers (daylilies, calla lilies, roses) in your best crystal vases, drape strings of white lights everywhere, and of course, ask your guests to wear their best white outfits.

Forget complicated cocktails and party punch (kid stuff!) and set up a sparkling wine bar.

Lay a white tablecloth across a high table or counter, light white tapers to accentuate the sparkle, put out tall, slender flutes or white wine glasses, and fill ice buckets with a selection of fine sparklers from California's Sonoma-based Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards, like Sonoma Brut, one of those magical wines that really does go with everything; Blanc de Noirs, a delightful sparkler that resemble rosé; crisp Blanc de Blancs; or VA de VI, a sparkling wine infused with moscato. (Figure one bottle for every three guests, but have a few backups in case everyone is having so much fun that they want to linger — a good possibility.)

Put out a selection of good cheeses (no nut-crusted port Cheddar, please) and some top-quality Italian prosciutto or Spanish jamón.

Add squares or thin slices of tortilla española (Spanish potato omelette) or frittata, cucumber-caviar cups, honey-candied nuts with herbes de Provence, or other easy-to-make finger food.

Filter out the classic rock and hip-hop.

Instead, play cool piano jazz, Bach sonatas, or Spanish guitar music from greats like Andrés Segovia, Sabicas, or Paco de Lucia.

As for the wit and conversation, we're betting that if you set the scene right, it’ll flow as naturally as bubbly poured into a glass.

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