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Non Alcoholic Wine: Entertain & Ignite A Culinary Adventure

Non-Alcoholic Wine; Entertaining

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Non alcoholic wine served at dinner parties and soirees…now this is a subject close to my heart!

Who doesn’t love the anticipation of bringing friends and family together for an evening of laughter, good food, stunning wine, and great company?

Nowadays it’s all the rage to serve non alcoholic wine alongside appetizers at dinner parties, soirees and get-togethers. These kinds of gatherings are a win-win for everyone involved. Just like traditional wine, non alc wine goes hand in hand with appetizers, adding an extra flavor dimension to the eating experience. It’s like an exciting trip for your taste buds!

What Are The Top 10 Key Takeaways From This Blog?

Here are the top 10 key takeaways from the blog:

  1. Hosting a zero-alcohol event demonstrates thoughtfulness about guests’ health and safety, allowing them to enjoy themselves without alcohol-related risks.
  2. Keeping appetizers and hors d’oeuvres simple and familiar often results in greater enjoyment by guests.
  3. Fresh lemon juice and salt are secret ingredients that enhance the flavors of non-alcoholic wine, creating a harmonious pairing with appetizers.
  4. When planning a thematic ambiance for a dinner party or soirée, incorporate accents to create an immersive experience.
  5. Soft, ambient lighting contributes to setting the mood for an elegant and relaxed atmosphere.
  6. Choose coordinating plates and tableware to match the theme of your event.
  7. Selecting the right wine glasses, such as those with a wide bowl that tapers toward the rim, enhances the wine-drinking experience.
  8. Linen napkins are preferable to paper napkins as they provide a more refined tasting experience and communicate elegance to guests.
  9. Soft music creates a pleasant backdrop for the event, allowing guests to enjoy the flavors and atmosphere without distraction.
  10. Consideration of factors such as flavor profiles, textures, and complementary elements can help create perfect pairings of non alcoholic wine with appetizers and hors d’oeuvres.

What Are The Benefits to Hosting a Alcohol Free Evening?

Hosting a zero alcohol event shows your guests that you are thoughtful about their health and safety.  Your guests get to indulge in fabulous food and delightful zero alcohol wine, and leave satisfied, sober, and happy.

As the host you can pat yourself on the back for:

  • Making sure there’s no risk of any alcohol-related mishaps.
  • Giving everyone a chance to fully enjoy the festivities with a clear head.
  • Creating a chill vibe for those who aren’t into drinking, so they don’t feel left out.
  • Keeping yourself clear of any legal trouble from alcohol-related accidents.

Learned a Lesson:

I once prepared for my girlfriend’s wedding a selection of traditional wines and hors d’oeuvre pairings. Smoked Trout and Goat Cheese Crostini with Capers, Fresh Dill, and Lemon paired with British Columbian Sauvignon Blanc offered guests a local pairing. I also partnered Apple Butter Venison Sliders with an Ontario off-dry Riesling. The guests barely touched the hors d’oeuvres.

I was shocked when my guests quickly ate up my Tuna with Wasabi Mayo Wraps made with canned tuna.  The simple Caprese Pizzas were also the first to go. What was this all about?  I needed to figure this out.  I tried this experiment a few more times with the same results.  The lesson?  Keep appetizers and hors d’oeuvres simple. Most people gravitate toward comfort foods that they know they will enjoy.

You can transform your dinner party or soiree into a heightened sensory experience by preparing a magical environment and making sure the alcohol free wine harmonizes with the appetizers or hors d’oeuvres.

What Factors Constitute the Ideal Keto Pairing with Non Alcoholic Wine?

Non Alcoholic Wine; Entertaining

What constitutes the perfect pairing of low-carb appetizers with zero alcohol wines? Before diving into the specifics, it’s essential to heed a valuable lesson I learned firsthand: simplicity reigns supreme. Despite my initial enthusiasm for elaborate pairings like Smoked Trout and Goat Cheese Crostini or Apple Butter Venison Sliders, it was the humble offerings like Tuna with Wasabi Mayo Wraps and Caprese Pizzas that garnered the most praise.

This experience underscores the importance of catering to familiar tastes and comfort foods, ensuring that guests feel immediately at ease and satisfied. By keeping appetizers and hors d’oeuvres simple yet flavorful, you create an inviting atmosphere where culinary delights take center stage.

Elevate your dinner parties and soirees by curating a sensory journey where every sip and bite transports guests to gastronomic bliss. With careful attention to detail and a touch of creativity, you can transform any gathering into a memorable celebration of food, friendship, and joy.

Let’s embark on a journey of creativity and imagination as we design the perfect thematic ambiance for your soirée.

Planning Your Theme: What Are the Key Considerations?

Non Alcoholic Wine; Entertaining with Rustic Appeal

Picture this: a rustic haven adorned with charming accents that evoke the essence of the season. Our theme isn’t just about decorations; it’s about crafting an immersive experience where every detail harmonizes with the culinary delights you are serving.

The first step is to choose a theme for your event.  Then let your imagination go wild!

For a rustic allure, let’s infuse the space with outdoor charm. Think tin cans transformed into candle holders, casting a soft glow that accentuates the natural beauty of the surroundings. Remember, unscented candles ensure that nothing distracts from the tantalizing aromas wafting from the kitchen or the intricate flavors of your non alc wines.  Amazon sells MOZEAL birch unscented pillar candles that add to this rustic look.

Use burlap table runners or placemats.

Serve the appetizers or hors d’oeuvres on wooden platters. Incorporate other natural elements into the decor, such as branches, pinecones, acorns, and rocks.

What Are the Best Centerpiece Ideas for Your Table Setting?

If setting the non alcoholic wine and appetizers or hors d’oeuvres on a primary serving table, add a stunning center piece that celebrates the evening’s theme. Refrain from adding fresh fruit or fresh flowers to the table.

Adding fresh fruit may lead your guests to eat it. The sweetness in fresh fruit can negatively impact the wonderful acidity in both zero alcohol red and white wines. Sweetness can make a non alcoholic wine’s bright and refreshing acidity taste like paint thinner. Your guests won’t know that this is the case. They will just think you’re serving bad wine.

Additionally, steer clear of fresh flowers near the serving table, particularly if you’re decanting your non alcoholic red wine. Decanted wine releases ethylene gas, which can accelerates the wilting of fresh flowers. Your lovely flowers could be dead and flopping over the vase before your guests arrive. It’s hard to say if non alcoholic wine releases much ethylene gas as traditional ones.  But it’s not worth taking the change. Use dried flowers instead.

Here are five examples of table centerpieces that reflect a rustic theme:

  1. Mason Jar Arrangements: Fill mason jars with dried wildflowers, dried herbs, or wheat stalks and tie with twine or burlap ribbon for a charming rustic centerpiece.
  2. Wooden Log Candle Holders: Use rustic wooden logs as candle holders, either with unscented tealights or taper candles, for a natural and rustic touch.
  3. Succulent Garden: Create a mini succulent garden in a wooden crate or shallow planter, surrounded by moss or pebbles, for a rustic and low-maintenance centerpiece.
  4. Burlap and Lace Runner: Lay a burlap and lace table runner down the center of the table and adorn with small vases of dried flowers, unscented candles, or rustic lanterns.
  5. Vintage Lanterns: Place vintage lanterns of varying sizes on a bed of moss or rustic burlap fabric for a cozy and nostalgic feel.

Should You Decant Non Alcoholic Red Wine?

Non Alcoholic Wine; Entertaining with Decanter

From personal experience, some non alcoholic wine may benefit from a short period of aging in a decanter.  This short period may allow flavors to develop and integrate in the wine. However, aging non alcoholic wine for an extended period, as one might do with traditional wine, is not typically necessary. You may experiment in advance of your dinner party or soiree.  Buy a bottle of the non alcoholic red you intend to serve.  Open the bottle.  Taste the wine.  Decant the wine.  Every half hour taste the non alc wine to see how it changes for better or not.  This will give you a good indication on whether you should decant a zero alcohol wine for your event and when to decant it in advance.

How Should You Light the Room?

Let’s talk about lighting. Soft, ambient lighting is key to setting the mood. Consider delicate indoor string lighting or dimmable lamps that cast a romantic glow, enveloping the space in warmth and intimacy.

How Do You Set the Table?

Non Alcoholic Wine; Entertaining with Flatware

Your tableware should reflect your theme. For a rustic theme, you’ll want tableware that complements the earthy and organic aesthetic. Consider using wooden-accented tableware to enhance the rustic ambiance, such as wooden plates, wooden serving bowls or tableware made from natural materials like bamboo. You can also incorporate elements of nature into your table setting by using slate cheeseboards or serving platters, or serving dishes made from rough-hewn stone or natural rock. Add matte black silverware to maintain the rustic look. Overall, aim for tableware that brings the beauty of the outdoors into your dining experience.

No matter the theme you choose, stay away from plastic forks and paper plates. Plastic tableware communicates that you consider your guests to be unimportant.

What Are the Best Wine Glasses?

Non Alcoholic Wine; Entertaining with Wine Glasses

If choosing classic wine glasses, make sure they are the right shape. Opt for glasses with a trumpet-like design, featuring a wide bowl that tapers toward the rim. This shape enhances the wine-drinking experience by concentrating the aromas and guiding the tastes, flavors, and mouth feel across the palate. The shape of a wine glass can make or break the beauty of a non alcoholic wine. This holds true for traditional and zero alcohol wine. Consider using either a standard glass for both red and white wine or two distinct shapes to differentiate between them.  The wine glasses can also complement the shape of your tableware.  Personally, I’ve always been a fan of  wine glasses with angles rather than rounded bowls.  Angular wine glasses look fabulous alongside square appetizer plates and angular silverware.  Matte black angular silverware looks incredible alongside white, square plates.

What Type of Napkins Should You Use for Non Alcoholic Wine and Entertaining?

Linen Napkins

Let’s not forget the humble napkin! I used to teach traditional wine classes at Fleming College in Peterborough, Ontario. In one sensory exercise, I had the students sip wine while touching a variety of napkins, putting them up to their face and across their lips. The results were unanimous in every class. Students discovered, first-hand, that the texture of a napkin influenced the taste of the wine. When they experimented with a paper napkin, its rough texture created friction on the palate, altering how they perceived the wine. A rough texture amplified the perception of bitterness in the wine.

Using linen napkins resulted in a more refined tasting experience for the majority of the students in multiple classes. The linen napkin allowed for the nuances and subtleties in the wine to shine through for the students. Linen is elegant.  Linen communicates that your guests are important. Choose linen over paper napkins.

As an example, Caramel Cotton Linen Napkins with Fringe add rustic sophistication to the table and to your event.

What Music Should You Play for Non Alcoholic Wine and Entertaining?

Music

In this Fleming class, I had the students sip the same wine with different genres and styles of music.  Interestingly, music affects our tastebuds.  Aggressive music created friction on the palate, causing traditional red wine to taste harsh and astringent. Soft music allowed the same wine to show off its best qualities. Opt for soft music. Just as your non alc wine and appetizers or hors d’oeuvres harmonize, so too should your music selection. Soft melodies create the perfect backdrop, allowing the flavors to dance on the palate without distraction.

For a rustic-themed event, you’ll want soft melodies that evoke a sense of warmth, nostalgia, and the great outdoors.

Here are some suggestions:

  1. Folk Music: Traditional folk songs with acoustic instruments like guitar, banjo, or fiddle create a rustic atmosphere. Artists like Simon & Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, or Mumford & Sons offer soothing folk melodies perfect for the occasion.
  2. Bluegrass Tunes: The lively and upbeat rhythms of bluegrass music add a touch of energy while still maintaining a rustic vibe. Consider artists like Alison Krauss & Union Station or The Avett Brothers for their melodic bluegrass tunes.
  3. Acoustic Covers: Soft acoustic covers of popular songs can also set the mood for a rustic event. Look for artists who specialize in acoustic renditions of contemporary songs, providing a familiar yet rustic twist to the music.
  4. Indie Folk: Indie folk music blends elements of folk, indie, and acoustic genres, offering a modern take on rustic melodies. Artists like Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver, or Iron & Wine provide dreamy and atmospheric tunes perfect for a rustic-themed event.
  5. Nature Sounds: To enhance the rustic ambiance further, consider incorporating nature sounds such as chirping birds, rustling leaves, or flowing streams into the background. You can find playlists or albums specifically designed for relaxation and ambiance, adding an immersive touch to your event’s atmosphere.

These soft melodies will help create a warm and inviting atmosphere at your rustic-themed event, providing the perfect soundtrack for guests to relax and enjoy the rustic charm.  This music will also bring out the best qualities in your NA wine.

How Should You Serve Guests for Non Alcoholic Wine and Entertaining?

Finally, let’s consider the service. Whether you opt for a self-serve buffet or enlist the help of servers, let’s ensure your guests are guided through this sensory journey with grace and sophistication. Table cards detailing the non alcoholic wine and appetizer pairings add a touch of refinement and heighten your guests experience.

How Do You Serve White and Red Non Alcoholic Wine?

There are two ways to serve non alcoholic wine with appetizers or hors d’oeuvres. The first way is to serve whatever alcohol free wine you prefer and choose appetizers or hors d’oeuvres you enjoy. I refer to this as the ‘free-fall method.’ There are no rules stating that your zero alcohol wine must harmonize with the appetizers or hors d’oeuvres or vice versa.

The second method is to construct an elevated sensory experience for your guests. Choose non alcoholic wine low in sugar that possess characteristics that harmonize with certain taste sensations of the ingredients in the appetizers or hors d’oeuvres.

Indeed, pairing hors d’oeuvres with specific non alcoholic wine can initially appear daunting, especially when aiming to complement multiple wine selections simultaneously. However, with thoughtful consideration of flavor profiles, textures, and complementary elements, it’s possible to create mini dishes that harmonize with both white and red non alc wine at the same time.

What Are the Two Secrets to Perfect Pairings?

The two secret ingredients that bridge your non alcoholic wine with the appetizers or hors d’oeuvres are fresh lemon juice and salt. These culinary companions enhance the flavors of white and red non alcoholic wine, creating a symphony of taste sensations that delight the palate.

So, let your imagination soar as you embark on this culinary adventure, where every detail—from decor to music to flavors—is meticulously curated to transport your guests to a realm of rustic elegance and sensory bliss. Of course, you would expect lemon juice and salt to work with your alcohol free white wine. But these ingredients also work with red wine, too.

Non Alcoholic White Wine:

Non alcoholic white wine works extremely well with dishes containing fresh lemon juice. Why? Because a white wine’s fresh acidity complements that same fresh acidity in lemon. I refer to this taste as tanginess.

A non alc white wine’s acidity also nicely offsets saltiness. Think of salt and vinegar potato chips! Or how about the classic partnership between Brut Champagne known for its acidity and salty raw oysters? Need I say more?

Non Alcoholic Red Wine:

Smooth Fruity Reds:

Smooth, fruity non alcoholic red wine also work with appetizers or hors d’oeuvres showcasing fresh lemon juice and salt.  Example of these wines include Merlot, Tempranillo, Zinfandel.  By adding fresh lemon juice to appetizers, the tanginess heightens the fresh berry flavors of your zero alcohol red wine. The wine’s natural acidity also nicely offsets the saltiness in certain foods like Parmigiano or Asiago cheese, prosciutto and salami, salted nuts.

More Austere Reds: 

Non alcoholic red wine with more character also works well with tangy and salty appetizers and hors d’oeuvres. Think of austere reds like Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, Syrah.  The zesty taste of lemon complements the wine’s acidity. Saltiness also softens the pleasant bitterness and astringency in austere red, non alcoholic wine. These 2 ingredients are like the substructure and superstructure of a bridge. The ingredients work together to create a bridge between your non alcoholic wine and the appetizers or hors d’oeuvres.

What Should Be on the Menu for Non Alcoholic Wine Entertaining?

You don’t need a lot of time slaving in the kitchen to prepare 4 or 5 hors d’oeuvres to pair with your white and red NA wines.  Simple foods like olive and cubes of cheese paired with the right alcohol-free wine can taste magical.

Here we go: 

Lautus De-Alcoholized Chardonnay:

Non Alcoholic Wine; Entertaining with Lautus De-Alcoholized Chardonnay

I’m absolutely in love with this South African De-Alcoholized Chardonnay, possessing 1 gram of sugar per ounce.  So a 4-ounce glass has 4 grams of sugar.

In the making of Lautus wines, in general, the winemaker deconstructs the fermented wine, removes the alcohol, and then builds it back up again. The winemaker puts the fermented Chardonnay wine through

spinning cone technology twice.  During the first pass the wine’s volatile flavors and aromas are extracted.  The second pass separates the alcohol from the wine. The initial wine with the volatile flavor profile is then blended back into the de-alcoholized wine.  This meticulous process allows the resulting non alcoholic Chardonnay to retain its juicy South African flavor profile.

Lautus De-Alcoholized Chardonnay sings at the top of its lungs with juicy citrus flavor on the nose and palate. For me tangerine and yellow grapefruit come through on the nose.  The delicate palate offers zesty acidity, juicy tangerine flavor, light weight, and a decent finish.  Juicy, refreshing, and delicious best describe this South African gem.

Noughty Rouge De-Alcoholized Syrah: 

Non Alcoholic Wine; Entertaining with Noughty Rouge De-Alcoholized

French-trained CEO, Amanda Scott, and her team produced the brand, Nought Wines, as part of the Thomson & Scott family of products.  This non alc red is downright delicious.  Noughty wines are low in sugar, halal, and sustainable. For this reason, these varietals are ideal for a Keto diet or low-carb lifestyle.  You can drink any of the wines under the Noughty label.

Produced from Syrah grapes, Noughty Rouge De-Alcoholized, stands out as a crowd pleaser. This wine also has 1 gram of sugar per ounce.  Big, smooth, and pleasing are good words to describe this shining star. You’ll discover fresh blackberry fruit and black licorice on the nose.  This zero alcohol wine offers full weight, smooth texture, and juicy blackberry flavors, refreshing acidity, with a long finish.  Enjoy this baby in any season.  Sip Noughty Rouge De-Alcoholized in front of a roaring fire in winter or while relaxing in the sun during the summer.  Take a few sips while barbecuing flattened chicken splashed with fresh lemon juice, fresh rosemary, and garlic.

What Hors d’Oeuvres Should You Serve for Non Alcoholic Wine and Entertaining?

Keto Parmesan Crusted Chicken Wings:

Non Alcoholic Wine; Entertaining with Parmesan Crusted Wings

WINE PAIRING:

Both the Lautus De-Alcoholized Chardonnay and Noughty Rouge De-Alcoholized Syrah work nicely with these wings.   Both the white and red have lovely acidity that matches the saltiness in the Parmesan coating on the wings.

KETO LOW-CARB PARMESAN CRUSTED CHICKEN WINGS

 

KETO LOW-CARB ZUCCHINI TAPAS:

Non Alcoholic Wine; Entertaining with Zucchini Tapas

WINE PAIRING:

Both the Lautus De-Alcoholized Chardonnay and Noughty Rouge De-Alcoholized Syrah will complement this super simple hors d’oeuvre.  You won’t see it in the actual recipe, but be sure to drizzle the tapas with fresh lemon juice just before serving.  The lemon juice will bridge the wine with this appetizer.  The lemon juice will also work well with the flavours of parsley and garlic

KETO LOW-CARB ZUCCCHINI TAPAS

 

KETO BAKED FETA:

Keto Baked Feta

WINE PAIRING:

Both the Lautus De-Alcoholized Chardonnay and Noughty Rouge De-Alcoholized Syrah complement this vegetarian appetizer.  Serve it with low-carb crackers.  While the tomato’s acidity complements the acidity in both wines, be sure to add just a splash of lemon juice to the dish to ensure that bridge of harmony.

KETO BAKED FETA

FETA CUBES: 

Feta with Lemon

WINE PAIRING:

There is almost no preparation for this appetizer.  You can purchase any type and style of Feta you desire.  I’m a fan of Macedonian feta.  It has both zesty acidity (like lemon) and saltiness, the secret ingredients to complement Lautus De-Alcoholized Chardonnay and Noughty Rouge De-Alcoholized Syrah.  Again, both wines pair extremely well with this rustic cheese.

Ingredients:

1.5 pounds Macedonian Feta*

Directions:

Cut the feta into bite sized cubes.  Serve with toothpicks.

*For a vegan version prepare vegan baked feta instead with this recipe:

FETA STUFFED OLIVES:

STUFFED OLIVES WITH LEMON

In this pairing, the Lautus De-Alcoholized Chardonnay and Noughty Rouge De-Alcoholized Syrah harmonize with the tanginess of the lemon juice drizzle and feta or goat cheese and offset the briny olives.

Serves 6

Ingredients:

1 cup jumbo pitted green olives

1/4 cup Macedonian feta cheese or fresh goat cheese

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

Optional: Fresh herbs like oregano or thyme for garnish

Toothpicks

Directions:

Rinse the green olives and pat them dry with a paper towel.

In a small bowl, mix the soft feta cheese with 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. (If  you are using fresh goat cheese, you may need more salt to get that salty and lemony balance.)

Take each olive and using your fingers, carefully stuff it with a small amount of the feta cheese mixture. Press the filling gently into the olive to ensure it stays in place.

Once all the olives are stuffed, arrange them on a serving platter or in a bowl.  Stick a toothpick into each olive.  Drizzle the olives with 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice. Serve with the wines.

What Are Other Keto Appetizers or Hors D’oeurves That Benefit From Fresh Lemon and Salt?

Cheese is always a fabulous addition to any appetizer or hors d’oeuvre selection.  Cheese is naturally high in salt.  Salty cheese complement fresh lemon juice.  Think of fresh cheeses like cottage cheese, ricotta, yogurt cheese, cream cheese, etc.  You can always incorporate lemon into a cheese-based dip.  For Keto cheeses made with nuts, here are a few recipes to consider to add to your dinner party or soiree:

Baked Feta (Heart Healthy)

Parmesan Wheel (Heart Healthy)

Fresh Ricotta (Heart Healthy)

Cream Cheese (Heart Healthy)

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