You know, when I went to start this blog (and essentially everyday since then) I have been struggling to figure out ‘what is my niche’. I have fun with fashion, but I still ask my friends “what are you wearing tonight?” I love food and cooking at home, but I still follow recipes and actual food photographers run laps around any food photo I’ve ever attempted to take. I have my life tips and tricks, but I still ask my coworkers, my siblings, my fiancé for their advice and let’s be honest, a lot of the advice I’ve curated over the years is a conglomeration of what I’ve learned from the people in my life. Therefore, writing a monthly post leveraging the expertise of my friends seems like a no-brainer to me. The last Friday of every month I’ll round up the advice of one of my friends, whether it’s their favorite go-to salad recipes (Libby), the best tips for solid form in Pilates (Jenna), or how to shop a designer sale (Amy), I’ll whip together their tips into a convenient little post for you to read at your leisure.
First up, I ‘interviewed’ my friend Whitney Huffsmith. Over the years she’s shown me how to make engagement chicken, she made the most amazing gummy bear cake for one of my birthdays and she taught me the importance of a cheese drawer (read my article on that here!). She bought me one of my favorite cookbooks ever almost a decade ago as a gift ‘just because.’ On a whim I once stopped by her apartment years ago and she was baking both sweet and savory scones with a stand mixer before I even knew what a stand mixer was. Did I mention she was nonchalantly making scones on a weeknight while living by herself? Come to think of it, I need to create a reason for her to invite me over soon. Whitney?
In honor of National Wine Day, I asked her for her 6 wine suggestions to buy and bring along for 6 different occasions. Beyond her impressive cooking & baking resumé, she has learned a lot about wine through years spent traveling, dining out and hosting at home. Not to mention her husband literally went to Napa Valley High School and his father spent years working in the wine industry. So yea, I trust her advice. Here are Whitney’s top 6 for 6!
Girls Night – Rosé Bubbles
Whether you’re hosting girlfriends for book club, a viewing of the Bachelor (I’d go for Dancing with the Stars, takers??) or for appetizers and girl talk, bring along Schramsberg’s Mirabelle Brut Rose. This bottle is budget friendly and of course there is something fun and festive and perfectly girlie about pink, bubbly wine. I don’t even have much else to say about this suggestion because I don’t have any in my fridge and it sounds pretty dang awesome right about now.
BYOB Sushi – Sauvignon Blanc
Since we first graduated college, (which sadly was quite some time ago), some of my favorite nights out to dinner with my friends have been sushi at a BYOB joint. Whether you’re going to a swanky place or the neighborhood spot down the street (we default to the latter almost every time) you can’t go wrong pairing sushi with some white wine. You can find Whitney’s go-to, crowd friendly Sauvignon Blanc on wine.com and likely your local grocery store. If you’re lucky and live nearby a Binny’s, they happen to have it on the shelf for an awesome price.
Night in on the Couch – Bourbon or Armagnac
When brainstorming different occasions, one of my favorite ways to spend an evening, aka my couch never came to mind. Whitney suggested making an evening in a little more special by elevating it with a bourbon or an armagnac.
In theory I love this idea, but despite years of ‘trying to like brown liquor’ I have never succeeded and blame Wild Turkey. She had also suggested a Pinot Noir, so I linked some of Food & Wine’s favorite, affordable ones under $20 here.
BBQ at a Friends Place – Red Zinfandel
Now that the weather is reallly warming up (it will be almost 90 today in Chicago!) it should come as no surprise that BBQ’s are an incredibly popular option for gatherings with friends. Particularly with red meats, plan on picking up a red zinfandel to pair with the afternoon or evening celebration. Seghesio has $18-40 price points and even a few hovering around $100 if you’re feeling fancy. A zin is a solid option if you know meat is hitting the grill, or you could go with a pinot noir for a lighter wine with say a roast chicken.
Game Night – Napa Cabarnet Sauvignon
I will admit that as I’ve gotten older, game night is an evening I always look forward to. It’s a no-reason reason to get your friends together under the guise of a dinner party but under much more casual, celebratory terms. If you don’t know what they’re serving or you are bringing along an appetizer and let’s say you want to bring along wine as a gift, go with a Napa Cabarnet Sauvignon. These tend to run a bit on the pricier side so your host will be extra appreciative to have you as a guest. For good measure I would recommend going into your local wine shop, asking for some of their recommendations and getting to know the employees! Many shops have free tastings and really there’s no better friend to have in the neighborhood than a local wine expert.
Dinner Party – Champagne
If you are invited over for a dinner party, either last minute or you’re unsure of the menu, knowing what wine to bring can be tricky. Whitney suggested bringing along crowd-friendly bubbles, which can be opened before dinner or the host can keep as a gift. As she poignantly suggested there are lots of different options of champagne out there, but “everyone loves a yellow label.”
What are your favorite wines to bring along to parties? Or do you have a go-to cocktail recipe that you stand by? Share them with me in the comments below or as always you can email me at email@example.com.
*All photos by Artistrie Co.