Girls night! Sometimes don’t you all just need a night in with friends? Drinking good wine & having a good meal? I know I do. Not too long ago my friends and I decided to do just that! We pulled together items from our fridges, picked up some wine and made a time to meet up at my apartment on a Saturday evening. The dinner: Skinnytaste’s Eggplant Rollatini with Spinach. The wine: Tempranillo from our neighbors at 22 Second Street.

For the Eggplant Rollatini I used the Oxo V-Blade Mandoline. I really liked this mandoline because it has a straight blade and a wavy blade, which allows for crinkle cuts.  You can also adjust the mandoline to four different thicknesses by turning the knob on the side to 1.5 mm, 3 mm, 4.5 mm and 6 mm. Once you’ve chosen your blade and thickness settings you can lock the mandoline into place and you’re good to go.

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This mandoline felt sturdy while using it and I really liked the food gripper that allows you to securely slice while protecting your fingers from the blade. I never felt like the mandoline was going to collapse in on itself and cutting through the eggplant was relatively easy. In the future, I’d really like to compare this mandoline to the Oxo Chef’s Mandoline Slicer, which has a steel base. After using the mandoline cleanup was easy – the mandoline’s body is dishwasher safe and since the blades are interchangeable you can easily take the blade off the mandoline to hand wash it.

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On top of a great meal, we also enjoyed some great wine that we decanted using the Fortessa Pure Decanter. We at Culinary Square enjoy a nice bottle of wine and love the way a decanter looks on the dinner table when entertaining, but what are the benefits of decanting wine? For those answers we turn to our neighborhood wine shop: 22 Second Street. According to Corey over at 22 Second Street, decanting wine serves two purposes- aeration, and separation from sediment. Natural wines are often bottled unfiltered, so sediment can be found in the bottle. While completely safe for consumption, the sediment in a wine bottle can spoil a sip with a gritty/sandy texture that most find unpleasant.

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In regards to aeration, allowing oxygen to come in contact with the wine can enhance aromas and flavors (which is why wine drinkers can be seen swirling wine in a glass, mixing oxygen into the wine, allowing the wine to breath and become more expressive). Pouring wine into a decanter not only allows for the wine to mix with air, but creates a larger surface area of the wine to be in direct contact with oxygen.

Too much oxygen can spoil a wine, so tread lightly. The best way to judge if a wine needs decanting is to take a couple sips from a small pour when you first open the wine. If the first couple sips seem dull, tight, waxy, or restrained, pour the wine into a decanter and revisit it every 15-20 minutes until it feels like it is starting to open up and hit a peak.

With all this information on a fun night in with friends with good food and good wine we feel we’ve equipped you with all the necessary information for a great night in. What meals do you like to make with friends? Let us know in the comments!