HGTV’s Monica Pedersen Hosts the Perfect Wine Party

Planning a party can be stressful any time of year, but especially during the hectic holiday season.

Fortunately, Monica Pedersen of HGTV’s “Designed to Sell” says there’s a solution. “Throwing a wine party can be quick and easy,” Pedersen explains. “You can go off the charts with it and make it really special, or it can be very simple and impromptu.”

To show just how easy it can be, the Highland Park designer and John Terlato of Terlato Wine Group recently hosted an impromptu wine tasting in order to give us some pointers.

Other than the wine, what should people have on hand for a wine tasting?

You need to have a couple of good serving trays to keep the wine organized, and there’s nothing wrong with buying a matching pair. With a wine tasting, you want to keep the wine organized. It’s very easy to get confused between a glass of Merlot and Cabarnet.

How did you select the color palette? Autumn and holiday décor can feel so overwhelming, but this feels sophisticated.

If you’re really focusing on wine and cheese, you want things to feel festive, but you don’t want to overpower. Browns and neutrals are a good backdrop for greens and reds, so this is a nice neutral palette that can definitely lend itself to fall and the holidays. If you wanted to make it more of a Christmas thing, you could add some winterberries or a little sprig of greenery in the bows of the wine journals.

The velvet napkins add a touch of glamour to the linen tablecloth. Where did you find them?

For the napkins, I took chocolate brown velvet and lined it with poplin, so it’s soft. People don’t realize that they can use home décor fabrics on the table. You’re not limited to just what the store has.

Why did you choose leather journals as party favors?

Those are inexpensive blank books I picked up at Target. When people go to wine tastings, they often walk out the door and the next day can’t remember what they drank. Your guests can use the journals to write down why they like a wine or one of the pairings. Little gestures really let your guests know that you’ve made an effort. They help establish the mood and make it memorable for people.

The bow adds a festive touch!

I created the bow with upholstery fabric, but if you wanted to dress it up even more, there are so many fun, little accessories out there. I found the cute, little corkscrew at Pottery Barn.

Any wine party no no’s?

As beautiful as flowers are, skip them for a wine party. Many have a fragrance that will compete with the aroma of the wine. This party is about taste and smell, and you don’t want your design accessories to compete with that. Bring in candlesticks but don’t bring in flowers.

Thanks Monica!

Enjoy this companion article: John Terlato on wine and the importance of pairings.