I like to have a dinner party every six weeks.  There is nothing better than putting together a group of the right blend of personalities at an intimate dinner.

I always start the conversation with a bottle of wine.  Before we even pour a glass, I use it for a dinner game.  If the vintage of the wine is 1998, I ask all the guests around the table to share something memorable that happened to them in that year.

I had a very old bottle of wine here a couple of months ago that I served to a couple I’d know for years.  I learned that the year of the wine’s vintage was also the same year that they got married.  In all my years of knowing them, that’s something I never knew.

If you’ve got good synergy with people, you probably won’t need this little trick.  But if you’ve got a group where talk of religion or politics will cause friction, it’s a wonderful way of concentrating on one person at a time and sharing across the table.