Ah, New Year’s Eve: high expectations, higher ticket prices, feet aching from your even higher stilettos! Add in a questionable-quality ‘top-shelf’ (read: well) open-bar, a ‘Champagne’ toast that’s probably headache-inducing swill, overcrowded venues filled with stumbling & rowdy over-served revelers, long waits at coatcheck and crazy Uber-surge pricing (if you can even get a car home)… no wonder those in the hospitality industry call NYE the ultimate amateur night.
A much better plan is to throw an intimate soiree at home (or a swank Air BnB somewhere fun!) with your nearest and dearest. Dream up a festive and stylish evening inspired by the ultimate chic destination: Italy! Italians are effortlessly sexy, glamorous, and decadent… if you can’t get to Positano this year, bring some Italian style to your guests with these La Dolce Vita-style party tips.
To Drink: Franciacorta
On New Year's Eve, a bit of bubbly is mandatory. For an Italian-themed bash, serve the Italian sparkling wine called Franciacorta (FRANT-sha-CORT-a). Many of you might consider Prosecco to be the Italian equivalent to Champagne, but that’s not really accurate: they don’t share the same production method or grape varieties. However, Franciacorta can rival Champagne in terms of quality and craft: made in the Lombardia region of Italy (also home to 2 of the finest Italian cheeses, Gorgonzola and Talleggio) from mostly Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes, with a little Pinot Bianco allowed in the blend (similar to Champagne which utilizes Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and a bit of Pinot Meunier). It’s made in the ‘classic method’, meaning there is a double fermentation in the bottle just like Champagne.
Learn more about sparkling wine styles here.
What to Know Before You Hit The Wine Shop:
Franciacorta is available in different levels of dryness (again, just like Champagne, ‘brut’ is probably the most popular--- and look for ‘demi-sec’ if you like it a little bit sweet).
Franciacorta styles include rosé, Millesimato (all grapes from a single vintage), and a style called Satèn which has softer and finer bubbles and a silky texture because there’s lower bottle pressure. Franciacorta prices are on the level with Champagne- expect to pay $35-$80 a bottle.
Franciacorta is about 20 times smaller than Champagne as a growing region, with only about 100 producers (vs. over 19,000 Champagne vignerons)... and it’s known as the status drink of Milan’s fashionistas. They typically have a fresh green apple quality with some notes of almond and hazelnut, and they are delicate and elegant. Perfect for closing out one year and ringing in another!
To Eat: Italian Antipasti
The best thing about Italian party food (beside deliciousness factor) is that it's simple, fresh, and easy to assemble. Channel your inner Giada and assemble a spread of chilled seafood, artichoke toasts, salumi and cheese, grilled veggies and some crusty Italian bread. Put out some hot flatbreads, stuffed mushrooms and arancini if you want to do something warm. One great trick of the NYE cocktail party is to kick things off at 9 or 10pm... a subtle way to let your guests know not to expect a full dinner spread. Make things easy on yourself by going simple!
Check out our Complete Guide to Entertaining Like an Italian here.
To Wear: Italian Screen Goddess Femme Fatale
To Play: Retro Italian Lounge Tunes
Check out our Pop, Pour & Play - Italian Aperitivo Party Playlist (you can break out the Ari and RiRi later once everyone's had a couple glasses of Franciacorta!):
Extra Credit: Party Favors
Instead of the tired New Years cardboard hats/horns/tiaras... Gift your guests with festive Venetian masks! Fun to wear and a great momento of a fabulous night.
Felice Anno Nuovo!