Holly Brown
Grape vines with the fruit still growing and the final harvested product as seen above. A Crush Party celebrates the wines of our region and allows guests to enjoy wines they might have overlooked or never tried. With the right menu, delicious food pairings create combinations that will delight and amaze.

Celebrate Fall Harvest with a “Crush” Party

By Holly Brown

Celebrating Fall Harvest is a rich tradition among the viticulture community. The “crush” period begins when wine grapes start to change color in mid to late summer. Picking, de-stemming, crushing, and fermentation occur between August and November. Grape harvest in our state this year will be the largest ever according to The Washington State Wine Commission, so there’s a lot to celebrate! It’s easy and fun to throw a Harvest “Crush” Party. Just follow these steps for a great event with food, wine and friends!

Step 1 – Start with Wine Selection
Select wines that suit your taste. You can focus on locally made, boutique, or small batch wines. Or ask guests to bring their favorite varietals and do a taste test. You can even create a theme around an import like Spanish or French wine, or focus on a specific region or appellation. You can also keep it simple and ask guests to bring a bottle of wine that reflects a great experience they had discovering that particular label or vintage. There are so many ways to make wine tasting and storytelling the focus of the evening.

Step 2 – Plan Your Menu
The key to success is to offer finger food that can be served at room temperature and to pair foods with wine. If you host this party during Fall Harvest, choose dishes that include seasonal ingredients like squash, pears, figs, beets, and of course cheese.

Some of our favorite food and wine pairings include:

  • Pair Fresh Figs and Goat Cheese with Champagne, Sparkling Wine or Prosecco
  • Pair Feta and Basil Cheese Balls with Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, or Beaujolais
  • Pair Squash and Kale over Puffed Pastry with Chardonnay or Viognier
  • Pair Mushroom Topped Rustic Toasts with the earthy textures of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Burgundy or Barolo
  • Pair Prosciutto and Basil Wrapped Bread Sticks with Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Noir
  • Pair a Pear Hazelnut Tart with Chardonnay, Sweet Sparkling Wine or Sauterne

Step 3 – Let the Party Roll
Set the stage by giving your party a winery or tasting room feel. Low light, candles, music, and decor can set the mood. Create the ambiance of a cellar by decorating with grapes, corks, dried leaves, etc. Good stemware is also essential. Taste one food and wine pairing at a time, or put tags on wine bottles and next to food items suggesting which food should be paired with which wine. Let guests serve themselves, or play sommelier, especially if you happen to be a wine connoisseur and know your stuff.

Watch our FoodieTV show to see how we throw a Harvest Crush Party, or try our recipes at of TheBrownLounge.com. It's where food, wine, and friends meet!

Holly Brown, Publisher, Foodie, & WebTV Host

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