Expert tips on being the perfect host, and guest this party season

By Lindsay Trivers December, 13 2017
November and December are months where our Dubai diaries seem fit to bursting. And whether you’re hosting, or attending, the plethora of parties upon us, The Tasting Class is on hand to offer a little insider guidance when it comes to eating and drinking your way through a fantastic festive season.

Led by experienced, internationally-trained sommelier, Lindsay Trivers, The Tasting Class offers a broad range of public and private beverage tasting events, as well as consultancy, training and globally-accredited qualifications. And, as the UAE heads into a winter of entertaining, Lindsay is more frequently asked for her expert opinion on event planning, menu choices and even gift ideas.

Most recently, The Tasting Class became the first Approved Programme Provider of Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) courses to both a consumer and trade audience in Dubai. With 15 years of experience in the beverage and hospitality sectors, spanning five continents, this represents Lindsay’s biggest achievement to date, allowing her to pursue her passion for education in the F&B sector.

Here, Lindsay gives her top tips on entertaining in Dubai this party season.

What makes the perfect party ‘welcome drink’?

Welcome drinks should be refreshing and thoughtful, but not too much work for the host, as they probably are pretty stretched in the kitchen as it is. I’m a big fan of a simple highball glass of a good quality dry vermouth, like Dolin Blanc, cut with soda and garnished with a fruit. It’s simple, attractive, subtle and hydrating. Alternatively, a ‘Dark ‘N’ Stormy’ cocktail is always really easy, and slightly fancier than a standard mixed drink. Just be sure to get a good ginger beer. Fever Tree or Bundaberg are great, and both available from Spinneys.

What’s an easy canapé to serve before dinner?

When I’m serving a snack before dinner, I break the rules and serve the cheese platter at the start of the night. I include some dips, charcuterie and a crudités. It’s easy to pull together and visually appealing.

Is a gift for the dinner party host expected?

I think it’s always nice to rock up with a gift for the host, but not expected. Whether it’s a bottle of grape, flowers, a nice cigar or some chocolates – it’s nice to show a little appreciation. I think grape is even more appreciated in this region, as it can be hard to get your hands on, if you aren’t organised.

It’s my job to organise a festive dinner for my team at work. Any tips on what to do?

Depending on the size of the team, there are some cool options at The Tasting Class. We offer private grape and cheese pairing classes in BOCA’s cellar, which seats up to 16 people and makes for a quite intimate gathering, and larger groups can take a section of the main restaurant or patio. For even larger groups, of 30 to 200, we can orchestrate a grape tasting challenge game at Sofitel JBR, which are a load of fun for beverage newbies and connoisseurs alike.

You’ve hosted hundreds of dinner parties. What are your top tips for a flawless evening?

1) Try to prep as much of the food in advance as possible, right down to pre-chopping herbs for a garnish or salad. Pre-measure ingredients that you’ll need to cook together right before service, and pre-cook items like potatoes that can just be finished in the oven right before you eat. 2) If people see that you’ve put some thought into the grape, or the grape pairing, they will slow down and enjoy both the food and the drinks on the night. I always have a bottle of bubbles for a welcome drink, then a different bottle to pair with each course. 3) Ambience and table settings go a long way to make a night special. I’m addicted to buying placemats, cloth napkins, napkin rings, snazzy cutlery and pretty plates in order to create beautiful table settings.

And what about top tips on things to avoid for a flawless evening?

1) Try not to spend too much time on preparation on event day, or you might end up pretty tired when it’s time to enjoy your guests’ company.
2) Don’t overdo it on three complicated courses you’ve never made before. Stick to one show-stopper of a dish if you want to try out a new recipe, then keep dessert or starters simple with a cheese board or some nice chocolates, for example.
3) Having your drinks at the right service temperature is easy to overlook. Stock your fridge with your beverages and ice well in advance to avoid serving warm drinks.

For more information on The Tasting Class, as well as a full schedule of upcoming events, visit TheTastingClass.com. To learn more about TheTasting Class’ WSET courses and register interest, visit HospoTraining.com

First published on: My Dubai News

About Lindsay Trivers, founder of The Tasting Class: Lindsay Trivers is the founder of The Tasting Class, and on a mission to improve wine culture in the Middle East through education. With 15 years of experience in the beverage and hospitality sectors, spanning five continents, Lindsay came to the UAE in 2013 to join Dubai’s glittering five-star hotel repertoire, but has made her biggest impact in the industry since launching The Tasting Class in 2015. Lindsay holds qualifications with WSET, The Court of Master Sommeliers, Auckland University of Technology and also studied beer in Belgium under Master Beer Sommelier, Sofie Vanraflegehm. Before launching The Tasting Class, her beverage career was punctuated by roles at Decanter Magazine, Café Belge, Ritz Carlton DIFC in Dubai, The Vines of Mendoza resort in Argentina, Villa Maria Estate and Hancock’s Wine & Spirit Merchant in New Zealand and Voyager Estate in Australia.

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