Just because it’s fall, doesn’t meant the gatherings need to end — if anything, chilly weather and shorter days are the perfect excuse to gather friends around the dinner table. My preferred way to kick off any sort of party is a well-curated spread of cheese and meats served with wine! Because it’s fall, I’ve been more partial to red wines, particularly Merlot from Italian purveyor Ecco Domani. I find that this medium-bodied red wine has luscious notes of blackberry and cherry, while also being balanced and soft on the palate.
For this fall fête, I decided to spice things up a bit, literally. I reached out to my good friend, Ashley of Craft & Cocktails to help me concoct a fall-inspired cocktail using the rich and flavorful Merlot.
Mulled Wine Old Fashioned (created by Craft & Cocktails)
- 2 bottles Ecco Domani Merlot
- 1/2 cup bourbon
- 2 oranges, juice + zest
- 1 lemon, juice + zest
- 6 whole cloves or 1/2 tsp. ground clove
- 4 cinnamon sticks
- 4 star anise
- 3/4 cups whole blackberries, muddled
- 1 1/4 cups black tea syrup
Start by zesting the oranges and lemon, then combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Turn the heat to low and allow to summer for 30 minutes. To serve, strain through a fine mesh strainer and garnish with a blackberry and twist of orange peel.
Black Tea Syrup
- 4 bags black tea
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
Bring the water and sugar to boil in a saucepan on medium-high heat. Remove from heat and add the tea bags. Let the tea steep for 5-7 minutes. Remove tea bags from syrup to use.
In terms of cheese, I’m a firm believer in the ‘more is more is more’ philosophy. I piled platters with all kinds of deliciousness: rosemary-covered manchego, wine-soaked goat cheese, softened brie, and even a stinky blue cheese.
I also really love to offer guests great pairing options, so I loaded up my table with favorites like sliced baguette, tons of different kinds of crackers, quince paste, olives, and cured meats. Oh, the cured meats… sigh.
Let’s talk about ambience, shall we? I wanted the table to feel casual, but still quite special and seasonal, especially with Thanksgiving around the corner. In place of a traditional tablecloth, I instead covered my table with a sheet of kraft paper. I folded the paper into small rectangles to give a bit of texture, too. I also adore candlelight, so I set the scene with mini twinkly lights and looooong taper candles — so romantic!
It’s all about the special touches, too. I wrapped natural twine around my glassware and even created my own small centerpieces. I tried to keep everything pretty low, height-wise, so as not to interrupt the flow of conversation. I incorporated many different types of greenery and foliage: twigs of rosemary, tiny sprigs of currants, and golden colored chrysanthemums. To make the rosemary stand out even more, I wrapped mini string lights around them — gotta get that twinkle!
Lastly, I wanted to make sure everyone was comfortable, so I added soft decorative pillows to the chairs, along with a throw or two in case someone gets cold (I feel like we all have that friend).
What do you think — wanna come to my party?
Sources: silk jumpsuit from Anthropologie, entwined gold taper holders from Anthropologie, gold flatware from West Elm, Tola plates from Crate & Barrel, bronze hammered chargers from Williams-Sonoma, pillows from West Elm, napkins from Crate & Barrel, Marché cloche from Anthropologie, and glassware from E. Smith Mercantile.
This post is a partnership with Ecco Domani. All opinions are my own and always will be! Thanks for supporting content that keeps Jojotastic going.