Tempus Two Lighten Up Shiraz

How to host a healthy dinner party with perfectly paired food and wine

Congratulations - you’ve decided to host your own dinner party! Perhaps you want to show off your newfound cooking skills, celebrate a milestone, or simply want to get together with your friends and family after too long apart (we feel you!). Whatever the reason, planning a healthy dinner party with perfect food and wine-to-match can be stress-free, nutritious and as jubilant as a kid on a merry-go-round with these top 5 tips and tricks for how to host a dinner party, plus a deliciously healthy dinner party recipe ideas.

 

Top 5 tips for hosting a healthy dinner party

Food and wine is, in general, the perfect combination, but particular wines tend to supplement specific food groups with heightened splendour. If you’re new to pairing healthy dinner party recipes with wine, these tried-and-tested tips consistently produce fantastic pairings:

Learn more about popular wine choices, and the food’s they pair best with in our wine lover’s guide to wine varietals.

 

1. Keep it small

A dinner party is a relatively intimate affair; guests gather to share good meals, fine wine and pleasant conversations. When making your list, consider inviting:

When putting together your list of guests, also consider when you’d like to host a dinner party. It’s a good idea to give at least one month’s notice to find a date that suits everyone - preferably on the weekend to avoid work commitments getting in the way or ruining the festivities!

  • Friends and family that enjoy each other’s company
  • Guests that are good at small talk (to help guests who aren’t as well known feel comfortable and welcomed)
  • Between four and six guests (start small to account for seating and food preparation)

 

2. Be strategic with your menu

  • Cook meals you’ve made before to lessen the chance of surprises on the day, even if this means practising a new meal you desperately want to add to the menu
  • Choose desserts you can prepare ahead of time to give yourself more time to prepare dinner (bonus points if you can prepare this ahead of time too) and socialise with guests the day of your dinner party
  • Time each menu item (its food-prep and cooking time) to make sure you have plenty of time and don’t miss out on spending time with guests
  • Find out guests’ dietary requirements ahead of time, and plan accordingly. You might need to consider allergies or vegan dinner party ideas to ensure everyone has plenty to eat.

 

3. You have amazing culinary skills;

Now’s the time to show them off! When planning your menu, there are a few strategies you can use to minimise your stress and impress your guests:

4. Learn about food and wine pairing, then provide plenty of options

  • The wine should be more acidic than the food
  • The wine should be at least as sweet as the food
  • The wine should have the same flavour intensity
  • Red wines pair best with bold, warming meats (red meat)
  • White wines pair best with light meals (chicken, salads and seafood)
  • It’s better to match the wine with the sauce rather than the meat (red, tomato-based sauces pair well with Red wine, while creamy, light sauces pair well with White)
  • For contrasting pairings, choose White, Sparkling or Rosé wine.
  • If your meal includes food high in salt, choose a savoury wine with low tannins

 

5. Prepare whatever you can in advance

Avoid leaving anything to the last minute by preparing everything (and anything) in advance; this means meal-prep, house-prep, and mental-prep.

After you’ve planned your menu and selection of perfectly paired wines, start meal-prepping by writing down all the ingredients you’ll need to purchase, and when it’s closer to the date, buy your ingredients and wines online or make a trip to the grocery store. Make sure to leave yourself plenty of time for multiple trips (in case you forget something or aren’t able to find it that day), plus an extra day to prepare any meals you can ahead of time.

Prepare your home, and free up time on the day, by cleaning ahead of time. Prioritise your living space, kitchen, dining areas and bathroom to create an inviting, homey atmosphere that guests will want to congregate. When tidying your home, think about how you might want to decorate on the day. A few minor details can make all the difference:

Last but not least, prepare yourself mentally and emotionally. Whether you’re stressed, nervous, or excited, take a second to acknowledge your feelings and ground yourself.

  • Consider setting your table with fresh flowers or natural elements, depending on the season
  • Create ambience and help guests relax with lightly scented candles, fairy lights, and dimmed lamps
  • Find a gentle playlist for background music, but don’t put too much pressure on yourself to create one from scratch. Spotify offers a variety of excellent pre-made dinner party playlists that guests will love!

 

6. Go easy on yourself

The most important part of hosting a dinner party is having a good time with friends and family. Avoid setting your expectations too high and apologising when things don’t go precisely as planned - this will only make you nervous and won’t add to anyone’s enjoyment.

Our recommendation? Relax, take a sip of wine, and enjoy yourself.

 

 

Healthy dinner party recipe ideas to pair with wine

Maintain a healthy lifestyle while impressing friends and family with these healthy dinner party recipes and food ideas:

 

Arrange a grazing table with healthy snacks

Arrange a table of light and healthy dinner party entrees that guests can enjoy alongside aperitif-style wines. If your dinner party starts earlier in the evening to give plenty of time to socialise, providing healthy snacks helps keep guests satisfied while waiting for the main course.

Try arranging mixed nuts, fresh fruit and vegetables, olives, cheese, avocado, sun-dried tomatoes, and toasted pita bread alongside homemade hummus to give plenty of options.

 

Healthy dinner party recipes we love: Lemon & Coriander Hummus
Key information:

  • Suitable for a vegetarian or vegan dinner party
  • Dairy-free
  • The total time to make is 5 minutes
  • Makes 250g

 

You'll Need

  • 200g tinned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp chopped coriander, plus extra leaves for garnish
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 

Method

  • Place chickpeas, tahini, garlic, cumin, ½ tsp lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil and water in a food processor and process until creamy
  • Stir through coriander leaves and season with salt and pepper
  • Place in a small serving bowl and top with the remaining lemon zest and coriander leaves when ready to serve

 

Provide fruit-infused water and low-alcohol wines

It’s a good idea to make sure guests have plenty of water to drink throughout the party, but you can spice this up by infusing it with fruit. It’s a much healthier option than soft drinks and juice and happens to look fantastic too!

Wines that are lower in alcohol are also a great way to include healthier drinking options. ‘Lighten Up’, our new collection of low-alcohol wines, has fewer calories and the same great flavour as wines with higher alcohol content.

 

Healthy dinner party recipes we love: Watermelon, Kiwi and Lime Fruit-infused water

Key information:

  • Suitable for a vegetarian or vegan dinner party
  • Dairy-free
  • Gluten-free
  • Prep time 5 minutes +at least 2 hours to chill in the fridge
  • Makes 1 litre

 

You’ll need:

  • 1 litre of water
  • 1 cup of ice cubes (optional)
  • 1 cup watermelon, cubed
  • 1 kiwi, diced or sliced
  • 1 lime, sliced

 

Method:

  • Place fruit in a large water jug
  • Add ice and fill the jug with water
  • Add additional fruit (or herbs to garnish, such as mint) if desired

 

lighten up range with food

 

Serve greens

Serve plenty of refreshing, green vegetables that complement your menu while adding some of that beautiful green colour to your table! When planning your menu, consider how you might incorporate greens; perhaps you’ll make it a main or maybe just a selection of salads - the choices are endless.

 

Healthy dinner party recipes we love: Colin Fassnidge’s Zucchini Pasta with Garden Green Sauce

Zucchini Noodles with TomatoesKey information:

  • Vegetarian friendly
  • Gluten-free
  • The total time to make is 15 minutes
  • Serves 4
  • Omitting the cheese to make it suitable for a vegan dinner party

 

You’ll need:

  • 4 large zucchinis, spiraled
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 250g cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • Green sauce
  • 75g parmesan, grated plus extra to serve
  • 2 cups chopped kale
  • 1 cup rocket or baby spinach
  • 1 cup basil leaves, plus extra for garnish
  • 1 cup mint leaves, plus extra for garnish
  • 200ml olive oil
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 100g pine nuts, toasted plus extra to serve

 

Method: 

  • Use vegetable spiraliser to make the zucchini pasta (spaghetti style), then set aside
  • For the green sauce, place all the ingredients in a food processor, season and process until smooth
  • Heat oil in a large frypan over high heat, then add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the zucchini spirals and toss to coat. Add half the green sauce, and toss to combine
  • Remove from heat and serve with remaining sauce, extra herbs, nuts, tomatoes and parmesan

 

Wine Pairing:

  • Tempus Two Lighten Up Prosecco: The perfect accompaniment to any occasion, the delicate bubbles and full flavour of this Prosecco mingle with notes of citrus and pear for a lasting, crisp finish. Lower in alcohol and reduced calories while still bursting with flavour… what’s not to love?

 

Fill up on vegetables

Why stop at green vegetables? Add plenty of variety and colour to your table by providing a range of meals centred around vegetables, or sneak them into other meals (like pasta bakes) if you’re inviting a guest that prefers those “hearty” meals. Vegetables are high-volume, low-calorie foods, which means they’ll bulk up your meals and fill you up while maintaining your health and nutritional needs.

 

Healthy dinner party recipes we love: Baked Ratatouille

 

Healthy dinner party recipes we love: Baked Ratatouille

Key information:

  • Suitable for a vegetarian or vegan dinner party
  • Gluten-free
  • 15 minutes prep time + 1 hour cooking time
  • Serves 4-6

 

You’ll need:

  • 3 Japanese eggplants, or 1 large eggplant
  • 1 red or yellow capsicum
  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • 2 zucchinis or summer squash
  • 1 onion
  • 8-14 garlic cloves, whole, peeled
  • 2-3 tbsp fresh herbs (thyme and rosemary)
  • Olive oil for drizzling
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Splash of balsamic vinegar
  • Optional garnishes: Parsley, fresh basil, capers, chilli flakes and olive oil

 

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 200C and place baking paper onto 2 large sheet pans
  • Prepare vegetables as desired: peel the eggplants and cut into ½ inch pieces, slice the capsicum in ½ inch wide strips, cut the tomatoes in ¾ inch wedges, slice the zucchini the long way, then slice into ½ inch thick half-moons, slice the onion into ½ inch thick half-moons
  • Spread the vegetables over the sheet pans in a single layer, then add whole garlic cloves (peeled) and herbs
  • Drizzle with olive oil and toss, using enough oil to coat. Sprinkle with a generous amount of salt and pepper, then toss well
  • Roast in the oven for 20 minutes, mix the vegetables, roast another 20 minutes, mix again. Turn down the heat to 150C and roast for 10-20 minutes, or until tender and edges begin to caramelise
  • Taste and adjust the salt as needed. Drizzle with a splash of balsamic vinegar
  • Serve over pasta, soft polenta, or whole grains. Feel free to add additional vegetables (such as beans) or meat (such as sausage or chicken) for a non-vegan alternative

 

Wine Pairing:

  • Tempus Two Lighten Up Pinot Noir: Enjoy the moment with this lower alcohol, full-flavoured Pinot Noir, bursting with bright red and purple aromas complemented by a delicate spice and an easy-drinking, crisp finish.

 

Include lean protein

A balanced, healthy meal should include lean protein where possible. Try grilling fish, roasting chicken, or making skewers to add some protein to the table! For vegan dinner party ideas, add beans, peas, lentils, and lite tofu to one of your menu items to make sure protein’s included.

baked salmon with herbs and garlic and lemon

Healthy dinner party recipes we love: Herb-baked Salmon with Lemon and Garlic

Key information:

  • Gluten-free
  • Paleo
  • The total cooking time is 20 minutes
  • Serves 4

 

You’ll need:

  • 80g for butter.
  • 1 tsp salt.
  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested.
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped.
  • 1 tsp fresh dill, chopped.
  • 1 garlic clove, minced.
  • Dash of white pepper.
  • 4 salmon fillets.

 

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 65C.
  • Place all ingredients (except salmon) in a small bowl and melt in the microwave for about 30 seconds.
  • Stir until combined.
  • Place the salmon fillets on a baking paper-lined sheet pan.
  • Using a pastry brush, coat the salmon with lemon herb butter, evenly spreading it over the tops of each fillet.
  • Bake, uncovered, on the top rack for 10-12 minutes or until salmon is cooked through and flakes easily with a fork.
  • Serve with a side of vegetables.

 

Wine Pairing:

 

 

Make your own sauces and dressings

easy pasta sauceStore-bought dressings and sauces often contain larger amounts of sugar and unhealthy fats than homemade versions, so making your own sauces and dressings with vinegar, olive oil, spices and lemon can make a massive difference in the nutritional value of your meal.

If you’re making pasta, consider making your own pasta sauce too! You’ll learn a new skill, have a lot of fun, and achieve a sauce that’s as healthy as the rest of your menu.

Healthy dinner party recipes we love: Easy Pasta Sauce

Key information:

  • Suitable for a vegetarian or vegan dinner party
  • The total cooking time is 20 minutes
  • Serves 6

 

You’ll need:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 3-5 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp butter (use plant-based butter for vegan dinner parties)
  • 1 800g can crushed tomatoes
  • ¼ cup water

 

Method:

  • Heat the olive oil over high heat until it simmers, then saute the onions, frequently stirring, until they soften and shine (about three minutes). The onions should sizzle and hiss as they cook. Add the garlic and stir to combine (this prevents the garlic from burning). Cook for an additional two minutes, then add the basil, red pepper flakes, salt and sugar. Stir to combine, then add the butter. Stir and cook for about a minute
  • Add ½ can of the crushed tomatoes while scraping the bottom of the pan to remove any stuck bits. Reduce heat to low, add remaining tomatoes, then stir in ¼ cup water. If the sauce seems too thick, add additional water.
  • Allow sauce to simmer for up to an hour. If simmering for longer, stir the sauce occasionally and add additional water as needed to keep the sauce at the correct consistency

 

Wine Pairing:

  • Tempus Two Lighten Up Pinot Noir: This full flavoured wine with lower alcohol and reduced calories is the perfect pairing for any occasion. Notes of black cherry and red berries are balanced by a soft, juicy mouthful and lasting finish.

 

 

Serve fruit with a healthy dessert

Finish dinner off on a sweet note by surprising your guests with a healthy dessert. Try a vegan cheesecake, a fruit platter or fruit salad, or - on cooler days - a sugar-free sorbet!

bowl of Raspberries with a bowl of vegan raspberry sorbet

Healthy dinner party recipes we love: Sugar-free raspberry sorbet

Key information:

  • Difficulty: Super easy
  • Suitable for a vegetarian or vegan dinner party
  • Makes 1.25L

 

You’ll need:

  • 6 cups frozen raspberries
  • 3 overripe bananas, cut into 1cm pieces, frozen
  • 60g fresh raspberries, roughly crushed

 

Method:

  • In 3 batches, process frozen raspberries and banana in a food processor until smooth
  • Transfer each batch to one large bowl, then stir through crushed raspberries
  • Spoon into a 1.25L container to freeze for later, or serve immediately

 

Wine Pairing:

  • Tempus Two Lighten Up Prosecco: Pear and green apple dominate this profoundly tropical, aromatic Prosecco that’s lower in alcohol and reduced in calories. Its delicate bubbles and notes of lemon sherbet and citrus pair perfectly with this fruity, healthy dessert.