Tips and Recipes for Hosting a Backyard Dinner Party Slideshow


Starter: Baby Arugula Salad

Fresh greens like arugula are in abundance in early summer. In this salad, the peppery greens are paired with sweet corn and salty, nutty Parmigiano for a light yet delightful salad that can be prepared in advance and tossed together just before serving.


Wine Pairing: Wente Vineyards 2009 Riva Ranch Chardonnay, Arroyo Seco, Monterey, Calif.

This medium-bodied, Chardonnay is delightfully easy to drink, with a light aroma of white florals and tropical fruits and flavors of honey, peaches, apricot. This is balanced by subtle buttery, vanilla notes from being aged in oak, resulting in a balanced wine with a tropical fruit finish. 


Dishware: Culinaria plate in Pound Cake; Capello flatware; Profile white wine glass

Main Dish: Grilled Leg of Lamb

A leg of lamb is great to serve when hosting a party, as it is delicious and can easily serve a crowd of ten. Serve a couple of slices of meat along with crispy baby potatoes like fingerlings, and any additional root vegetables, if you wish, and a glass of red wine.


Wine Pairing: Wente Vineyards 2008 Southern Hills Cabernet Sauvignon, Livermore Valley, San Francisco, Calif.

Unlike some California Cabernets, this smooth and velvety wine is full of rich flavors and balanced tannins, but does not overpower the lighter flavors of the grilled lamb. Full of dark fruit flavors like dark cherry, plums, and a hint of boysenberry, with a smooth, light coffee finish. 


Dishware: Culinaria platter in Chili; Capello flatware and serving fork; Culinaria plate in A La Mode.

Dessert: Panna Cotta with Fresh Berries

To round out a warm-weather meal, nothing is better than something cool like panna cotta. This dessert is easy to make and can be prepared up to a couple of days in advance. While we served the panna cottas turned out of their molds (simply dip them in tepid water to release, like you would with a Jell-O mold), you could also chill them in small bowls or mugs and serve them atop a small plate garnished with berries.


Wine Pairing: Wente Vineyards 2009 Riverbank Riesling, Arroyo Seco, Monterey, Calif.

Best served chilled, this wine is rich in sweet honeysuckle, fresh apple, and apricot aromas with flavors of apple, light spice, and honey, while the crisp acidity gently tempers its semi-sweet flavor for a balanced mouthfeel that perfectly complements this creamy dessert.


Dishware: Culinaria plates in Pound Cake; Capello iced tea spoon; Profile white wine glass.