What makes a great birthday celebration?

For my birthday this year, I drew a complete blank about how I wanted to celebrate. Long tables in restaurants mean you only talk to the people next to and opposite you. What if the food or the service is bad? Then someone else gets to ruin your celebration. On the other hand, if you have it at home, you end up cooking and catering and washing up for days before and after.

So this year I decided to have just a few of my closest mates over for drinks and snacks. I mean, we’re all getting on, and partying till 2am doesn’t happen in our circles anymore. Plus, I get to open some of my favorite wines, I can talk to everyone, and nobody has to get stuck sitting at a table talking to one person the whole night and missing out on meeting and chatting with other people at the party. It was a bloody brilliant idea if I say so myself, and it turned out to be a fabulous party.

It was simple to cater – a bread board with some dips, my home marinated olives, some chillied roasted nuts that I whipped up the night before, a cheese board with some caramelized ginger that I had made a few days before, some crudités and dips, and a fully stocked bar, and of course a few bottles of good wine. Perfect party!! Of course I did over-cater, so the downside is I’m re-enjoying the party food and will be for a while.

The festivities opened with a Saronsberg Wine Estate, Tulbagh Brut 2019, a superb MCC that I picked up at a wine tasting at UnWined. A bottle of my fav 2021 Chardonnay fromOldenburg Vineyards went down quicker than Liz Truss, and then the reds came out to play. The last of yesterdays bottle ofRainbow’s End Wine Estate 2020 to appease the non-white wine drinkers, followed by a real treat.

I had some wines in wooden boxes stacked up in the garage, waiting for a special occasion, and last night was one of those. All the way from France, a bottle of La Clémence Pomerol 2004. I don’t get to try French wines much, so this was my birthday treat to me. I thought the wine was going to be off when the cork crumbled on the way out of the bottle, but using a tea strainer I emptied the bottle into a decanter and then came the real test. It was a deliciously wholesome wine with generous flavors of ripe plum, and it had survived being stored unceremoniously in different temperatures, mostly incorrect.

There’s something about cracking open a wooden box to reveal the hidden treasure inside.

Then when wine capacities were almost peaked, out came a Bellevue Wine Estate 2020 Malbec to end off the night.

There’s always that debate about whether to entertain at home or go out but these days I’m leaning more towards my bar. Before and after the celebrations. Leaning towards the bar before, and leaning against it as the night progresses.

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