Get it here! Wining and Dining - The Sediment Guide to Wine and the Dinner-Party– is an e-book short. Eight inimitable brand new and exclusive Sediment essays, on the subject of wine and the dinner-party, for less than the cost of a glass of wine. One of The Guardian's best drink books of 2013, and available from Amazon now in the UKand USThe dinner party is a social minefield. Some might say that the food, the placement, the guests and the conversation are all key elements in a dinner party’s success. But in typical Sediment fashion, we largely ignore such things.
We focus instead on the wine. For, as CJ rightly says, “the wine must be there and it mustn't be so foul that it makes your armpits prickle.” Wine can make or break your evening. And hence, we are proud to offer our own idiosyncratic advice on wine and the dinner-party.
The selection and service of dinner-party wines are clearly significant things, now that dinner-parties themselves have become something of a competitive sport. So these, and other, perhaps less obvious aspects of the evening’s wine, have been considered, by two gentlemen who have drunk rather more of it than their wives think they ought.
Of course, we have each taken our own particular approach to the event itself. For PK, “the dinner party is a combination of fashion show, restaurant, and debating chamber, held within the pages of an interior design magazine.” To which CJ retorts that “The main fashion statement at the last dinner party I went to was that the men had bothered to wear socks.”
The positions we each maintain on dinner-party wine may be anticipated by our regular readers, of which we are told there are some. One of us is hugely concerned about the wine and what it says about you. “Yes, it’s unfair that people may judge you by the wine you serve. But it is a declaration, to any guest who can read a label, of your worldliness, knowledge, style and generosity. Guests may judge you by equally unfair characteristics like your accent; but the wine you serve and the way in which you serve it is more easily altered than a tendency to rhyme ‘like’ with ‘oik’.”
Our other author insists simply that “dinner without wine is a trial, an indefensibly spartan and protracted event. The wine must be there, and in quantity, to make a dinner worth attending, or giving, or ruining, or turning up late for, or hosting. …Here in the sticks, we don't select wine, we just go out and buy it. And we don't serve it, but we do plonk it on the table and hope it will pass muster.”
After such preliminaries, we consider other crucial ingredients of the evening itself, like cooking with wine – “or, rather, drinking wine while cooking, such that the first adds excitement to the experience of the second, without screwing it up completely.”
There is the thorny issue of taking or receiving wine as a gift, “probably a habit left over from student days, when PBAB was in the corner of most social invitations, and the type of B you’d B was largely irrelevant.”
We do, of course, consider the choice of wines themselves and how to serve them – in essays addressing wines before, during and after the main meal. Knowing that our readers do not anticipate extensive tasting notes, we provide our usual idiosyncratic blend of general advice and suggestions, and try wherever possible to temper any ignorance with wit.
And finally, we consider the end of the evening, always remembering that “the best dinner parties are the ones you have no recollection of leaving”.
You need to read this e-book, before the Christmas invitations start flying, and you feel compelled either to invite people round for dinner, or to accept an invitation to dine out.
You can buy Wining and Dining for yourself or, of course, you can give it as a gift; unlike many other potential presents for a wine enthusiast, it will not break in transit. (In the UK, you can send your recipient an Amazon gift certificate for £1.99, and embed the link http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00AHXZ3AM in the message field.) Unlike certain wines, it suggests only positive things about your taste.
You need to buy it for those friends who hosted that appalling dinner. And you need to buy it for yourself, so that you’re never described as those friends who hosted that appalling dinner.
Our Sediment guide is like the wine itself: “It will not necessarily induce merriness, boisterousness, wittiness or open-heartedness, but it will take away some of the pain, especially at your own dinner party, where your cooking will taste like the contents of a birdbath, and the merriest noise will be the sound of someone's car alarm going off.”
Surely the most enjoyable thing on the wine market for just £1.99.
CJ & PK