This post is sponsored by Nestlé, which compensated me to partner with California Pizza Kitchen® frozen pizza and share news about the “Adventures in Entertaining” campaign this summer.

If you asked most of my girlfriends what would be their idea of the “perfect night,” I think most of them would say, (in this order): “Babysitter or Husband puts kids to sleep, get together with best girlfriends, drink wine and eat delicious food… and someone else does the cleaning.”
Well lucky for them, I got to facilitate that night… And pretty much in that order.  I decided that hosting a girls’ night of wine tasting and pairings with gourmet pizzas and other delectable dishes at my place would be a perfect way to kick off the Adventures in Entertaining campaign with California Pizza Kitchen (CPK). As you probably already know, I’ve teamed up with CPK ready-to-bake pizzas to celebrate and explore the many ways CPK can make your entertaining more delicious.
All guests had to do was come hungry and thirsty… I would do the cookin’ and a sommelier would do the pouring. Yes, a real sommelier who had more than my “yep, that tastes good” knowledge about wines and could actually walk us through an evening of tasting and pairings. My plan was to make the party as comfortable, smooth, and fun as possible. To me, what makes a great party is, of course, the company, food, and drink, but also the décor. Décor sets the tone – and you can set that tone from the very beginning with a great invitation. (Like the one I custom built on Paperless Post, inviting everyone to “my vineyard.”).
Once party day came, it was time to execute all the DIY, “let’s throw a party!” ideas I’ve been storing for months and months. I started the morning by laying out all of the trays and dishes I’d be using to serve f
ood. By placing them on the table and identifying which platter would be used for which food, I knew exactly where each item would go when it was time to serve.

Since this was a wine/food-pairing event, I wanted my guests to know what we were eating and what they should drink with it. (“Would you like wine or… more wine?”) Using chalkboard contact paper, and a chalk marker, I created a wall menu.

Underneath the wall menu, I set the party favors in a vintage wooden box next to succulents. For the thank you gifts, I bought inexpensive wine screws and tied them with twine, a little tag and stamped “thank you” on it.
At the wine counter, our sweet sommelier Joey lined up the wines in order of our tasting next to the sea of sparkly glasses. 

So that my guests could keep track of their wine glasses throughout the evening, I made wine glass charms out of cork. Simply cut them in into ¼ inch pieces, screwed in small eye hooks, stamped guests’ initials on each size, and attached with twine.
With the other recycled wine corks that I purchased online, I placed them around a thick white candle in hurricane vases. 
Most of my serving pieces were white, with a few green pieces and green flowers for my arrangements. As one not to shy away from detail, wherever there was food or beverage set up, I made sure that the colors were carried out onto beverage napkins that I stamped with cute “Eat and drink” type designs. (Btw, stamping your own napkins is not only extremely easy, but it’s very budget friendly and again, just adds another layer of detail and décor).

But the piece (or shall I say, pieces) de resistance for the entire evening were the pizzas. For my main course, I served the CPK limited edition varieties  of Roasted Vegetables Pizza with Chardonnay Sauce and Grilled Chicken Pizza with Cabernet Sauce, which celebrate the delicious flavors of California vineyards.
As soon as I placed these freshly baked pizzas out on to my chalkboard painted platters, they were gone! I loved the lightness of chardonnay crème sauce topped with roasted red and yellow peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, red onions, garlic, basil, and mozzarella and parmesan cheeses. After a few bites, Joey handed me a tasting of the most delicious Chardonnay from Santa Barbara that really complimented the freshness of the vegetables.  
I loved learning about the different grapes and regions and why wines like the ones we were drinking were so perfect for the food we were eating (and eating, and eating, and eating…) We drank a lot of Cabernet Sauvignon (I definitely had a favorite!) but the ones that Joey chose to pair with the Grilled Chicken Pizza were off-the-charts amazing. This crispy thin pizza topped with a cabernet marina sauce, grilled white-meat chicken, spinach, roma tomatoes, rosemary, black pepper, and mozzarella, parmesan and gouda cheeses was served hot and bubbly and was delicious. 
To make it extra special (and girly), I had my dear friend and jewelry designer Christine McCrudden (pictured above) bring samples of her line Q Handmade for us all to shop. (I’m sorry, nothing really goes better with food than shopping. Actually, everything is better with shopping. And jewels). 

Of course, no meal is complete without something sweet. To make dessert easy (can’t interrupt the flow of shopping and gossiping), I served balsamic drizzled berries with a champagne wafer in individual bowls with mini spoons. 

The best part of the party was not only getting to host my friends to an evening of food and drink, BUT getting to enjoy said food and drink for the days that follow. If you think pizza makes a great leftover, you haven’t tasted some of this wine.
For more entertaining ideas and inspirations, check out my tips on CPK’s Facebook and Pinterest pages!


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