Bacchanal in a bottle: A wine tasting party could boost your street credibility.

A wine tasting partyAt most wine-tasting parties there’s a distinct buzz in the air. Glasses clink and candles flicker as moist, berry-stained lips part, allowing delighted laughter to escape into the room.

And there you stand, soaking in the sexy, fun and (gasp!) educational experience like a hunk of French bread in a saucer of au jus. With just five bottles of wine, some palate-pleasing finger foods and about 10 of your closest friends, you can add life to your social circle’s humdrum party circuit.

Wine experimentation in a festive setting can be fun, unpretentious and simple, says Kelly Gilboy, owner of the Wine Boutique in Middleton, WI. “I think if someone is ready to try wine and is dining out, but doesn’t know how to order it, a wine-tasting party can be great, because you learn among friends,” she says. “It takes the edge off in an informal setting. There is so much out there to enjoy, and you’re in an environment where people might not be so intimidated.”

Eden Langerman, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, enrolled in a wine-tasting course last spring. “I wanted to be more knowledgeable about wines,” Langerman says. “I think that it’s really impressive and learning about wines is so much fun. You might get trashed from beer, but drinking wine is like an art form.”

Look Like a Pro

There are a few details about graduation parties anyone thinking of throwing one should know.

Graduation PartyEverything seems to be going fine for the best graduation party this side of the river, whichever river you’re talking about and whichever side you’re on. You are actually graduating, you are actually having a party. But despite popular opinion, graduation parties are not just like other parties.

A major difference between a graduation party and just any other kind of party are the guests. The guests really make any party, and many grad party guests (graduating students) are likely to be in delicate emotional states due to major life changes. These are people who have been attending school full-time since at least age six, but many of whom are going to attempt to adapt school-free lives. They’re also probably being separated from their major support system — their best friends. And on top of all this, many grad party guests are sleep-deprived from studying for finals (or hard partying), scared to death because they don’t have a job offer yet (or, in some cases, scared to death because they do), cranky from spending too much time with relatives during graduation festivities and already feeling the first waves of oversentimental nostalgia for their college years.

With a group of guests in such a potentially volatile state, the “just add beer, chips and music” philosophy can lead to an overemotional drunken outburst. At the very least, a good grad party host or hostess should be ready to deal with the likely delicate emotional states of her/his beer-drinking, chip-eating guests.

Which is the most critical graduation party element?

No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers’ dirty looks

Party it upEnd of the Year as We Know It is coming around in December. Some of you College seniors will be singing this and more as they finish finals and wait to don their cap and gown on graduation day. But if you don’t dig staying in town waiting for the big event, we have some great pre-graduation getaways for everyone in the class.

Class Clown
Spend your last days as a college student in Never Never Land. Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL, is a place where you can feel like a kid again before entering the real world. There’s plenty for big kids to do, including such thrill rides as Tower of Terror, Space Mountain, Rockin’ Roller Coaster, Splash Mountain and Journey to Extinction. If nightlife is your thing, you can catch hot acts and cool sounds at Downtown Disney’s House of Blues or go dancing at one of the theme nightclubs at Pleasure Island.