Setting the table to celebrate the grape harvest

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This year, burgundy-garnet hues inspire me greatly, whether to create an autumn wreath with hydrangeas in rich, powerful colors like this one, or to set a table whose main theme is the grape harvest. I take great pleasure in showcasing seasonal fruits and vegetables, and I have to say that autumn, a season of abundance, offers us everything we need. I often spend a few days in wine-growing regions in early autumn, and I love to watch wine merchants and bistros decorate their stalls and dining rooms to celebrate the Fêtes des Vendanges (Grape Harvest Festival) or the arrival of Beaujolais Nouveau.

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It’s that time of year when we realize that autumn has finally arrived, that it’s here and we can enjoy it to the full. And with the leaves just beginning to change color, setting a table to celebrate the harvest is a foretaste of my next autumnal tables, which will showcase the flamboyant colors of the season, especially when it has unfurled its full splendor.

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The atmosphere is cosy, you feel like staying warm at home (« nesting » as the Anglo-Saxons say) and it’s the time of year when you can take the time to invite a few friends over for a quiet evening at home and enjoy some fine wines (without abuse!) around comforting dishes. Friends and family sometimes tell me that they don’t entertain much because they feel under pressure to serve an elaborate meal. But often, a good, simple meal is more than enough: your friends and family want to spend time with you, and you don’t have to spend the whole evening in the kitchen. It would be a pity for them and for you.

I set this table for a few guests with a recipe for grape sausages with celery purée. Nothing too complicated, but a good, comforting dish, the recipe for which I give you here, followed by a rustic apple tart.

Let’s turn now to the table decoration. Don’t forget that we’re not talking about an exact replica (I always like to do too much rather than too little), but I hope you’ll be able to glean a few ideas. Guests always appreciate it when you make the effort to set a table, and it makes them feel valued.

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1. Choose a cosy place to set the table

Don’t hesitate to place your table in an unusual but charming spot. For me, an autumn meal has to be cosy, so I placed a round table from the garden near the fireplace. It’s a good idea to shake things up, as dining in a different part of the house or apartment has its own special charm.

2. Choice of glassware

Do as you please in this area. Needless to say, the glasses I chose are not wine glasses – my relatives all pointed this out to me when I was setting the table. But I thought wine glasses were too modern here and I stuck to my guns. Of course, you can follow the rules to the letter, but you can also mismatch glasses and have fun with colors and shapes, to break the rhythm and catch the eye. For this table, I preferred not to continue to shock people too much, so I stayed fairly neutral with classic glasses.

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3. A tablecloth in rich autumn colors

I chose a plain hemp table in a rich garnet color. A beautiful shade with lots of character. It comes from Couleur Chanvre and the fact that it’s plain allows me to « load up » the table and make the plates and decor stand out nicely against it. Be careful with the candle wax, as it may drip and stain. It’s also an ideal tablecloth color to use when setting a Christmas table.

4. Napkins that add a rustic touch

Checks of all kinds are my guilty pleasure. I love the fact that they instantly bring an authentic, country feel to any interior, especially when it comes to tablecloths and napkins. The napkin rings represent the vine, and I inserted two viburnum leaves that were just starting to turn their autumnal color.

5. Seasonal bouquets

Arrange bouquets of different sizes on the table in small pewter vases that are so appropriate for the season. I made these bouquets with elements straight from the garden: hydrangeas, Japanese anemones, dahlias, astrances, sedum and asters.

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6. The candles

We’re staying with garnet tones, but with stronger touches of color from the violet candles. Choose pop colors that will stand out from the rest, adding character and spice to the ensemble. Candles are particularly important, as they add a special atmosphere and warmth.

7. Add one of the table's theme elements: grapes

Arrange large bunches of grapes in pretty dishes or standing compote dishes. Add vine leaves, place a few fresh hazelnuts on the table… don’t hesitate to make abundant use of natural decorative elements such as seasonal fruits and vegetables when setting the table. The effect will be all the more striking!

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