The Derby is the United States’ longest-running sporting event, held annually since 1875. With such a historic race, comes a host of equally historic traditions, from the icy cups of mint juleps to the eye-catching fashions, to the friendly wagers. Throw a Derby race party that makes everyone feel they’re part of the action.
Save the Date. Since 1931, the Derby has been run on the first Saturday in May. This year, mark your calendar for Saturday, May 6.
Coming Up Roses. The winner of the Derby receives a garland of red roses. For a traditional touch, decorate your buffet with bouquets or bud vases of roses.
Lay a Wager. Print ballots for guests to make their friendly, just-for-fun wagers on the winning horses—with bonus prizes for guests who correctly guess the trifecta of win/place/show!
Mint Condition. It wouldn’t be a Derby without mint juleps! Serve from pitchers, and add silver paper straws and a splash of sparkling wine.
(Un)Stained Glass. Use colorful Sharpie pens or dry-erase markers to decorate your wine glasses and bottles with Derby elements such as outlines of horses or horse-related terms. You can erase the marks with nail polish remover or rubbing alcohol.
Horse-Themed Wine Recommendations
Want to use your wine to add to the Derby theme? Try these:
1. 14 Hands Cabernet
||14 Hands Cabernet: a medium-bodied addition that focuses on flavors of black cherries, was named for the small wild horses that used to live in the Columbia River basin of eastern Washington state. These small steeds measured only 14 hands (adult palm-widths) tall.
2. Wild Horse Pinot Noir
||Wild Horse Pinot Noir: also gets its inspiration from wild horses, specifically celebrating the Spanish mustangs that roamed the central California estate before it was a winery. Each bottle offers a rich, diverse collection of aromas and flavors, from distinctive nutmeg to strawberry.
3. Dark Horse Cabernet
||Dark Horse Cabernet: is a deep, dark red, but the California winery also makes rosé and whites. Winemaker Beth Liston uses the term “dark horse” to inspire a bold flavor profile in each of her wines.