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In the midst of winter, there is no better respite from the chilly weather than a cosy night in with family or friends. And what better way to bring everyone together than to gather round the table. Here you’ll find a guide to hosting your own winter dinner party.
First, food stylist Emma Knowles shares her thoughts: “Consider texture and colour. I like having tactility, so if you’ve got a timber table you could have a felt placemat. From there it’s about layering up your dining pieces and glassware. It’s nice to have a basic dinner set and then bring special pieces in as accents.”
“I really like to do platters of food so people can help themselves. It helps conversation, it keeps things moving and it adds an energy to the situation which I really like,” says Knowles. “Make sure you’ve got a mix of shapes in terms of platters. Then it’s really about all your beautiful garnishes, whether it’s fresh herbs or a sprinkle of nuts for texture.”
“Try serving food in what it was cooked it in. If you’ve got a beautiful baking dish then serve it in that. It keeps things quite warming and rustic and inviting,” says Knowles. “There’s been a movement away from formal entertaining to something that’s a bit more casual which I think is far more appealing and easier for the cook as well. It saves on washing too!”
And then onto wine. Sommelier Samuele Sampirisi explains: “Some big bold red wines need to be decanted to give their best but if you don’t have a decanter you can uncork the bottle a few hours before serving the wine. Decanting white wine is not a priority but if you do it won’t hurt. After decanting a complex chardonnay or any full-bodied white, the wine will completely open up showing more of its aromatic style and complexity.”
“A classic Barossa shiraz or a Margaret River chardonnay have always been popular choices. But in the last few years we‘re noticing people are becoming more curious to try new wine varietals like Italian Nebbiolo, Sangiovese and Barbera grapes. Tasmania are doing better and better wines year after year. Their extraordinary pinot noirs and chardonnays are a must-taste,” says Sampirisi.