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Building a Menu Around Wine

Guest experience has come to the forefront of special event trends recently, and is especially evident in the field of catering. Hosts want food and beverage service to be interactive and engaging, along with personalized and high quality. All of these goals can be achieved by pairing menu courses with the perfect wines.

Photo Clane Gessel Photography

Where to Start
We begin by building wine-pairing menus by asking our clients a lot of questions. It’s important to identify the style of the event, purpose and the nature of the guests who will attend. We ask our clients what the five most important items are for the event, then create a menu that fits their vision.

Sometimes hosts need some guidance figuring out what they really want for their custom menus. If planning a wedding, birthday party or other social event, find out what your clients’ favorite foods are or where they like to go to eat. A great question to ask is, “When looking at a restaurant menu, what is your favorite item you like to splurge on?” or, “What do you like to order?”

If your clients indicate a favorite winery or local brewery, and it is one of the most important elements to them, design a menu that will complement their beverages of choice. If food is the most important, start with the menu then suggest beverages that can be paired with the courses they select.

Photo Clane Gessel Photography

Important Considerations
If you are creating a food and wine-pairing menu, remember to always build in extra room into the timeline. When serving a wine with each course, the process of service and clearing can take more time than a standard arrangement.

Keep the budget in mind when making suggestions. If you know it will not allow for you to serve 24 bottles of $75.00 wine, steer them towards wines that will work within their budget and their preferences. Luckily, there are so many great wines at all different price levels that there is always something to offer guests.

As a winery, we focus on finding wines to complement a course; however, any menu can be paired with other types of beverages such as cocktails and beers. If you have guests who do not drink, create fun mocktails to go with each course. Be creative and address their needs.

Experiment with offering your clients wine-pairing menus and you’ll take your food and beverage service to a whole new level, ensuring guests enjoy a meal experience they’ll never forget.

Heather Jones is the Catering Sales Director for Wente Vineyards, a family-owned property that is home to a winery and vineyards, a golf course, restaurant, and a handful of unique facilities for hosting weddings and special events.


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