Ladies Celebrating Ladies: Six Ways to Nail a FABULOUS At-Home or Virtual Galentine's Day Celebration

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In case you thought we had a typo in our headline, let us introduce you to Galentine’s Day.

Hosted the day before Valentine’s Day, the Feb. 13 Galentine’s Day celebration originated from an episode of the NBC’s popular TV series “Parks and Rec” as a way to honor your gal pals, the ladies in your life who always have your back. You know, the ones who are there from your first husband to the last and don’t care how many pairs of shoes you own (though you ALWAYS need more, they’ll tell you). And it’s only the greatest “holiday” of the year. Watch the clip here; we’ll wait.

This year Galentine’s Day will be different for many of us. Since we likely aren’t able to gather for a leisurely brunch with bottomless mimosas and mosaics made from crushed bottles of our favorite diet soda due to the impacts of the ’Rona, we tapped the experts at Detroit-based Bottles Nation for tips on how to create a virtual celebration that is deserving of the title.

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Michael Bottigliero, chief sommelier, and Blagica Bottigliero, a digital marketer by training and head of Marketing and Events, are the husband-and-wife duo behind Bottles Nation, the company that plans virtual and in-person events with a team of certified sommeliers, cicerones and mixologists. The ethos of Bottles Nation is all about celebrating things in a bottle, with the understanding that being surrounded by good family and friends while sipping a beer, a glass of wine or a cocktail is a good way to slow down, understand one another and enjoy life’s simple pleasures.

Don’t worry. If you miss Galentine’s Day this year, the advice can be easily adapted to a Valentine’s Day celebration with a group of your besties.

PICK A THEME
According to Blagica, selecting a theme for your Galentine’s Day, whether it be “gold,” “sparkles” or “best wines ever,” helps keep the event focused and makes it easier for the host to accessorize event accompaniments, from designing the invitations to selecting libations and decor. Yes, decor. Even for a virtual event!

PREPARE REAL INVITATIONS
People don’t receive mail much anymore, so when they do, they take it much more seriously. Receiving and responding to a physical invitation strengthens the commitment of the invitee to actually “attend” the event, Blagica said. “You’ll get a more accurate headcount and your guests will be honored that you took the time to handwrite their name and address on an envelope.”

DRESS FOR THE EVENT
Let’s face it, people spend 99.999 percent of the time at home in their pajamas these days. Galentine’s Day deserves more respect than that. Blagica suggested building a “dress code” into your theme. It could be positioned as a “formal attire” event, “city chic” or just an invitation for the invitee to wear the most fabulous thing they own. It could be anything really. Just not pajamas. Don’t do that to Galentine’s Day. We’re counting on you.

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BUILD THE RIGHT WINE LIST
Let’s keep it real. This is why your Galentines are showing up for Galentine’s Day. Don’t let them down. As Bottles Nation co-owner and the company’s chief sommelier, Michael is serious about his wine. After all, he’s been doing this for more than a decade and knows how wines can enhance any party, especially your Galentine’s Day party!

When planning a wine tasting, Michael suggested offering at least three different styles of wine and to always start with sparkling wines, as they are refreshing and pair well with appetizers. Then, “proceed to white,” he said.

“There are so many to try, but it’s important to first determine whether you like light or full-bodied white wines, which is like the difference between what water, or ‘light’ feels like in your mouth, compared to what milk or cream, or ‘full’ feels like,” he explained.

Next, Michael recommended moving to a rosé. “If you like a wine that is crisp, mineral driven ¾ and yes, you can smell and taste minerality in wine ¾ and great for food pairing, then try European. If you enjoy lush and fruity, then try New World, which is the Americas, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa. This is not an absolute in regard to the styles but can be used as a reference.”

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In the world of red, Michael said there are many options, such as light, full, oaked, unoaked, and “every day” drinking wines, mostly noted by the price tag, and then the aging wines. “Don’t get into these until you gain some wine knowledge,” he suggested.

“Start with what you like. If you enjoy light, go with Pinot Noir, and if you enjoy full-bodied, try Cabernet Sauvignon. Try from different regions and really branch out,” he said. “If you’d like to go to dessert, there are mainly two styles: late harvest and fortified.

“You also can go with a white or red, which calls for powerful cheeses and rich desserts. Most of the time, just a little bit, like 3 oz., will do you, because they are so concentrated and have higher alcohol by volume. When shopping, know your budget, but realize you don’t have to spend a lot to get a good bottle of wine. I’ve tasted fantastic wines for under $10.”

Get to know an expert! You don’t have to be friends with Michael or another sommelier, but your local wine shop probably has an associate who is knowledgeable and has tasted everything on the shelves.

“Just tell them what you’re looking for, be it sparkling, white, red, sweet or dry, full or light and so forth,” said Michael. “And if you’re not afraid to step out of the box, try different grape varietals from a country or growing region, and different styles. Chances are you’ll get some help finding the good juice.”

When it’s safe to begin gathering in groups again, Michael suggests attending local tastings at wine and grocery shops, as it’s an inexpensive way to taste many different wines. “You’ll be sure to find a lot of home staples and tons of knowledge while broadening your palate. I always keep bottles of bubbly –Cava, Prosecco, Trento DOC, etc. Rosé from southern France, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc–if you like grapefruit, Pacific NW Riesling, Oregon Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and Toscana Rosso and Montepulciano d’Abruzzo–pizza and pasta night– available, but wow, there is so much more out there.”

Once you’ve finalized the wine list, mail it with the invitation, if possible, and let your guests pick up their own bottles of wine prior to the tasting. Alternatively, assemble gift baskets and then deliver them to each anticipated attendee prior to the Galentine’s Day celebration for an unforgettable treat.

KEEP IT SIMPLE
Encourage guests to make a recipe or two at home that they can nibble on during the Galentine’s Day festivities. This could be in keeping with the “Parks and Rec” theme brunch or can include light menu items that keep with the overall theme of choice. Galentines could then distribute recipes to the group, sharing the reasons for their selected preparations and how they tie into the celebration.

HOST A CONTEST
“Decor may not seem important at first, but it is,” said Blagica. “It sets the tone for the event even when we go digital. We all want to feel like we’re truly at a party.”

One of the best ways to ensure widespread participation, she added, is with a friendly contest. “Offer three prize levels for ‘best virtual’ space, keeping with the theme,” she suggested. “A first, second and third prize. They don’t have to be expensive. Similarly, an award for best dressed or best themed costume will help bolster introductions among guests who don’t yet know each other.”


For more tips on wine, virtual tasting events and more, visit www.BottlesNation.com.