Just don't forget your costume!
Commander’s Palace in New Orleans, LA
Credit: Courtesy of Commander's Palace

With family, friends, and co-workers spread all over the country, I’ve attended my fair share of virtual events this year. From birthday parties and bridal showers to college reunions and engagement celebrations, we’ve all raised a few glasses to our computer screens over the last few months. While nothing beats catching up with your loved ones, there’s something special about a completely digital gathering that brings back the sensation of touring a beloved city

Without a trip on the horizon and desperately missing Southern travel, I signed up for one of the Wine and Cheese Parties hosted by New Orleans’ Commander’s Palace. Every Wednesday, the restaurant’s “Wine Guy,” Dan Davis, hosts a cocktail party over Zoom. But this isn’t just any old wine tasting. Each week has its own unique theme and the party’s hosts use that as a guide to bring as much fun as possible into a single hour.

My husband and I happened to register for a night centered around Game of Thrones. Since much of the TV show was filmed in Croatia, the team at Commander’s arranged for the group to sample wines and cheeses sourced from the region and selected by local New Orleans’ experts. Guests, including co-proprietors Ti Adelaide Martin and Lally Brennan, attended the event in costume (including lots of crowns and fur coats!) 

Throughout the hour, Davis interviewed each of the Croatian vintners and guided us as we sipped their wines. We not only heard about the flavors we were tasting, but we also learned about where the grapes grow and the process that goes into creating the wine. Experts from St. James Cheese Company stopped by to talk about how to pair cheese with wine (Hint: “If it grows together, it goes together!") and we even had the chance to hear a little live music straight from the restaurant. In true New Orleans fashion, we enjoyed delicious food and beverages, but this wasn’t a stuffy evening. Questions and jokes were encouraged, pets stopped by the screens to say hello, and at the end of the evening the hosts crowned a winner in the costume contest. This was the closest I had come to true leisure travel in the past seven months, and served as a much needed escape to one of my favorite Southern cities. As an added bonus, I stepped away from the evening knowing just a little bit more about food and wine. When I am ready to host again, you’d better believe that I’ll seek out some Croatian cheese! 

Ready to Zoom right into Commander’s Palace? On November 11th, the restaurant will host a nationwide party with a “History of New Orleans” theme. Learn more and get your tickets here. In the meantime, start dreaming up your costume. Residents of New Orleans and the surrounding areas can enjoy local pickup for a Halloween-themed party on October 28th, and a Gilligan’s Island bash on November 4th. 

Before you sip your first glass of wine, take a moment to learn a little bit more about the history (and the family!) behind this New Orleans' staple.