Several years ago, Food and Wine magazine published a very effective way to *****strate how food affects the taste of wine in a dinner format. Briefly, you give guests a small amount of two whites and two reds, each with growing complexity. Then you start with a simple garlic, olive oil and parsley pasta and taste the two whites. One will usually taste much better than the other. Then add sauteed mushrooms and the white that tasted good before usually doesn't taste as good as the other. Add a taste of the first red, but that doesn't taste right either. Then add a tomato-based sauce, and the whites taste bland while the first red works and the second is too overwhelming. Then add lamb shanks, and . . . well, you get the drift. After the guests have gone through small tastes and sips of all the steps, then serve them regular portions and a salad, and they can pick which wine they want to drink with the meal itself. Most opt for the most complex red, but some go for the lighter red or even a white; it's up to them and their taste buds. OK, my question is, since food, wine and taste are all going to have a lot demanded of them, what should we do with the guests when they first arrive? We've done this party twice, and both times just seated everyone and launched into the tastings. But it does seem a little abrupt, and I end up feeling a little like a cross between a drill sargeant and a kindergarten teacher--at least until I've had a bit of wine . So how would you folks begin the evening? P.S. I've been trying to type "d-e-m-o-n-s-t-r-a-t-e" above where you see asterisks. But the program keeps replacing it. What gives?