When the english village garden club members gathered recently, they were in for a double treat as well-known wine expert Scott Jones teamed up with local artist and floral designer Buffy Hargett. Through his Jones Is Thirsty Wine Education business, Scott, a former executive food editor at Southern Living and a celebrated author and chef, enjoys sharing his “no-snobbery” wine knowledge. Buffy, a senior photo stylist at Southern Living for 20 years, uses her floral arranging talents for weddings and other special events. The talented duo shared tips with the garden club on summer wine selections and do-it-yourself floral arranging that will make any hostess seem like a professional party planner.
Fun Wine Wisdom From Scott Jones
• Sutterhome White Zinfandel was a happy accident. Love it or hate it, it’s still one of the most successful wines ever made, says Scott.
• Rosé is a color, not a grape. The color of a wine comes from the skin of the grape rather than from the juice.
• European rosés are dryer than US varieties, which tend to be sweeter.
• The lightest—and sweetest—wine is Moscato d’Asti.
• Rosés should be enjoyed right away rather than aged. Serve at room temperature. (Cold mutes the flavors.)
• Serve champagne as cold as possible. If the champagne froths when you open it, it’s not cold enough. While all that bubbly looks festive, to serve properly, you should allow only a little of the bubbly (called perlagé) to make a topping in your glass.
• Open bottles of wine may be stored in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. To bring red wine to serving temperature after it has been in the refrigerator, Scott suggests placing it in the microwave for 15 seconds. Seriously.
• Wine—especially red—IS good for you in moderation. It can help lower your blood pressure and is filled with healthy antioxidants.
• Take a laid-back approach when serving wine. You don’t need all the different size glasses to enjoy it.
Arrange Like a Pro
With a few tips from floral designer Buffy Hargett, you can master the basics in no time.
• Buy your flowers a couple of days before an event, cut the stems immediately, and store in a cool space. This will allow the blooms time to open up.
• Combine several shades of one color for a monochromatic effect that still has a wow factor. Mix in a variety of textures, such as delicate blooms with heavier succulents.
• Floral arrangements at a dinner table should include only blooms without scents so as not to compete with or distract from the aromas of the meal.
• Find a container that works for your table and learn how to create an arrangement to fit it. Then stick with that design—your own signature arrangement—for every event.
Above left to right Finding inspiration in artwork, Buffy brought the colors in this particular piece to life through flowers. A pretty place setting from Table Matters complements the floral designs.
The English Village Garden Club Delicacies
Garden club food captain Patti Vines, along with a committee that included Marjorie White, Leigh Millican, Liz Weber, and Vicki Chandler, created a stunning spread complete with a charcuterie board. “Charcuterie” is a French word that refers to cooked meat products, primarily pork, served cold. The food committee mixed in a variety of cheeses as well to balance out the meats.
Charcuterie Board Menu
Pecorino Crackers (recipe from the cookbook, Giada’s Kitchen)
Fresh baguette (from Continental Bakery)
Cheeses: Robusto, Pavé du Nord-Hervé Mons, Cypress Grove Chevre, red Devon cheddar, red wax Gouda, Port Salut, and a blue cheese log rolled in pecan (from Homewood Gourmet).
Arrange sliced meats on a cutting board. Add cheeses and cheese knives. Fill small bowls with fruit and olives. Arrange crackers and bread on board or serve in a basket. For a garnish, Patti made tomato roses to complement the roses and rosé-themed program.
“This marbled brownies recipe has been in my family for so long that I couldn’t tell you the original source!” — Garden Club Member Patti Vines
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 1/2 sticks butter (softened)
2 cups sugar
1 cup flour (all-purpose)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped walnuts
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt chocolate, and cool. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, and beat well. Add flour, melted chocolate, and vanilla, and stir. Add walnuts. Pour into a greased 9- x 13-inch pan.
2. Drop Cream Cheese Mixture by spoonfuls on top of brownies. Swirl with knife.
3. Bake for 45 minutes. May store covered in refrigerator. The brownies also freeze well.
Cream Cheese Mixture:
8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
Beat cream cheese, egg, sugar, and vanilla.
These bite-size beauties won’t last long on your party platter.
18 1/2 -ounce package yellow cake mix
3 1/2 -ounce package instant lemon pudding mix
4 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 lemon, zested
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons water
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Spray miniature muffin tins with vegetable oil cooking spray. Combine the cake mix, pudding mix, eggs and oil and blend well with an electric mixer until smooth, about 2 minutes. Pour a small amount of batter, filling each muffin tin half way. Bake for 12 minutes. Turn out onto a tea towel.
3. To make the glaze, sift the sugar into a mixing bowl. Add the lemon juice, zest, oil, and 3 tablespoons water. Mix with a spoon until smooth.
4. Spoon the glaze over the warm cupcakes, coating completely. Place on wire racks with waxed paper underneath to catch any drips. Let the glaze set thoroughly, about 1 hour. Garnish the treats with whipped cream and a sliver of strawberry for a pop of color.