Natalie Richard: In Good Taste


Recipes and Wine Pairings for a California Wine Party

How to Throw the Perfect Summer Happy Hour Party

Recipes and Wine Pairings for a California Wine Party

With summer right around the corner, we all have backyard BBQ's, pool parties, and get-togethers on the deck with family and friends on our minds. One of my favourite things to do during the hot summer months is to use the witching hour to my advantage by throwing the perfect summer happy hour party. Your sunny time out party can be set on a patio, backyard, by the pool, on your balcony, picnic style, at the cottage, or even in your living room! I like to invite family and friends over for a California style wine and bites party so I can I create a memorable occasion for them as they discover new wines for the summer.

Whether it's a crisp and refreshing Pinot Grigio, a bright and aromatic Sauvignon Blanc, a smooth and flavourful Chardonnay, or a light and versatile white Zinfandel that you choose to serve, as a sommelier, my suggestion is to keep it fun! The white wine selection from Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi is marked by bright fruit flavors and smooth finishes and makes a great complement to food. Pair these wines with simple, but spectacular, California-inspired bites and set it all up in a buffet style presentation so your friends can try the different wines and decide what their favourites are.

Here are some tips, easy 3-step recipes, and my most popular wine cocktail mix that you can use as a greeting drink when your guests arrive.


Avocado, Shrimp, and Grapefruit Salad Bites 


  Suggested pairing: Woodbridge Sauvignon Blanc

Salad Ingredients:

2 ripe avocados, sliced
16 medium shrimp, cooked
1 grapefruit, all sections removed
1 tablespoon of roasted pecans

Vinaigrette Ingredients:

1 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp of lime juice
4 tbsps of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

  Prepare the ingredients: wash and separate lettuce, cut the avocado in slices, wash the shrimp, and section the grapefruit.

  Mix all of the vinaigrette ingredients together. 

  Assemble the salad bites on the lettuce leaves. One slice of avocado, one shrimp and one grapefruit section per lettuce leaf. Sprinkle with the roasted pecans and vinaigrette.

Serves 8


White Fish Tacos 


  Suggested pairing: Woodbridge Pinot Grigio


2 pounds of white fish fillets
24 corn tortillas
2 mangoes, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 red onion, chopped
2 tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
quarters of limes, olive oil, sour cream, hot sauce 

  Grill the fish fillets, skin down on the BBQ, or in the oven at 450 for 10-12 minutes, until flaky.

  Grill the tortillas on the BBQ for a few minutes, or heat them up in the oven in aluminum foil for about 5 minutes.

  Put all the toppings in separate bowls so guests can assemble their own yummy fish tacos.

Serves 8


Glazed Salmon Bites


  Suggested pairing: Woodbridge Chardonnay


500g (1 pound) fresh salmon fillets (skin off) cut into cubes
1/4 cup of soy sauce (or tamari)
1/8 cup of maple syrup
3 tbsps of lime juice (1 lime)


  Cut the salmon in cubes and mix with the marinade.

  Let the salmon marinate for at least 30 minutes (or up to 8 hours or overnight, in the fridge)

  Lay the salmon cubes on a baking tray and broil on the top rack for about 8-10 minutes, until glazed. Can be grilled on the BBQ as well.

Serves 8


Happy Mummy Cocktail


  Suggested pairing: Woodbridge White Zinfandel


1 bottle of white Zinfandel
4 oz of vodka
1 cup of soda water
1 cup of sliced strawberries
1 lime – half sliced, half juiced
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves

  ​Mix all the ingredients and serve on ice.

  Tip: Prepare this drink the night before and store in the fridge in a mason jar to let all the flavours infuse.

Have fun, enjoy your bites, and savour your wine! Cheers!