A WORD ABOUT ENTERTAINING
Entertaining is a lot of fun. that's why people do i, and that's why other people are always glad to be entertained. Your guests will arrive happily expectant, for they anticipate an evening of food, drink, and good conversation, as opposed, say, to an evening of Uncle Bert's and Aunt Min's home movies of their trip to Toledo. By the time they arrive, your major chores will have been completed so that you will be free to relax and enjoy both your friends and the fruits of your labor.
this is known as being a serene hostess. However, achieving a state of serenity is not altogether easy, since you must do a sizeable (sic) amount of planning and work in advance. I have found that the secret is not just abstract planning, but making a list, a written list that includes every last item from flowers to wine to extra soup bowls, if necessary. You must write everything down - do not rely on your memory - or you will forget at least one absolutely necessary item.
First on your list belong the standard items for a dinner party: candles for the table and a bunch or two of freshly cut flowers to brighten the place up. These two items immediately set a festive and even elegant tone to the proceedings.
In addition, you should think of a bottle of wine. Not only think about it, but buy it (that is always my rule of thumb! don't just think ponder it, do it!) , unless you can count on your guests or your beau to bring a bottle. Most people, understanding the tight finances of single girls, will show up with a bottle of wine, but it's just as well to have the proper one on hand. Your guests may bring the wrong wine or - worse yet - none at all. If you've already bought a bottle, save it. It won't go bad.
The general rule for wines is that you serve a red wine with red meats, such as beef, lamb, or pork; and a white wine with white meats, such as chicken, veal, and fish. Roses go well with both red and white meats, and are always a good choice, if you're in doubt. Champagne, if you can afford it, goes with everything.
White wines and roses should be served thoroughly chilled, while reds profit from a half hour sojourn in the refrigerator to bring them down to the proper European room temperature, which is usually lower than that in the normal American apartment. Try to remember to open the wines (except sparkling wines) half an hour before serving to let the wine "breathe." Fill the glasses no more than two-thirds full so that the lovely wine aroma (or bouquet) is trapped in the upper part of the glass.
If you're on a tight budget, California wines are very good and quite acceptable. They are often a better bet than the cheap imported French wines, which, sad to say, are frequently sour Algerian products masquerading behind a phony French label. Ask the man in the liquor store for help - tell him that you want a dry red or white wine for dinner and he'll be happy to give you some suggestions. Don't get a sweet wine to go with a meal; you'll ruin both.