Tips for Hosting a Wine Tasting Party
The more you learn about it, the more rewarding tastings will be, and even if you’re a novice, you will enjoy it and become more educated each time, whether you host your own parties or attend tastings in other homes or your local vinyard. You just need suitable wine, a corkscrew, an open mind, a few necessities, and good company. In fact, a wine tasting party is a creative way to bring family and friends together and it doesn’t have to be expensive.
You could schedule a short tasting before lunch or dinner so that you can follow up by drinking the same wines with your meal, or you could simply have a variety of snacks available. Also, it will be more manageable if you stick to no more than eight or ten tasters and line up no more than four glasses in front of each person.
1. Choose a theme
There are a number of themes you can choose from, but it’s important to select one and let your guests know in the invitation, especially if you are asking guests to bring a bottle or two with them to keep your overall expenses to a minimum. Also note that if you are tasting whites and reds, you should start with the lightest white and finish with the boldest red. There are a lot of themes you can choose, but just to name a few suggestions:
- Horizontal or Vertical – A horizontal tasting compares wines from the same year but from multiple producers while a vertical tasting involves wine from the same producer but from multiple years.
- Value – Choose a specific dollar amount, like $20 bottles. It is always great to find a new score at a great price point.
- Style – Taste through a series of similarly styled wines. For example, select an array of crisp, dry white wines or rich, bold reds, or “dessert wines.
2. Blind tasting
Makes it even more interesting, simply wrap the bottles in foil, or serve from brown bags, disguising their identity, and mark them with numbers.
This is a fun way to keep the conversation going and to really taste wines objectively. If you have a trusted wine shop nearby with well- educated staff, you could even have them select the wines for you, so even you are in on the blind.
3. Keep the party intimate & purchase accordingly
Limit the guest count to eight or 10 guests. A small, intimate group encourages conversation, once you exceed this guest count, you’ll have to consider having duplicates of each wine in order for everyone to obtain a sip.
4. Set the Table
Tablecloth – If you use a table cloth, white works best because it’s easier to see the colour of the wine.
Glassware – Have one or two glasses available per person.
Palate cleansers – Set out plenty of water crackers or a loaf of bread for palate cleansers.
Buckets – Allow your guests the opportunity to get rid of unwanted wine because some guests don’t want to get too tipsy.
Water – Be sure you have water handy to clean glasses
Score cards – Provide pens and paper for taking wine notes or you can find purchase them or simply
go online and search for free scorecards that you can print and have available for everyone to use.
5. Serve the right food
Do a little research on food pairings to decide what you will have available and make sure that guests know what kind of food will be served, so they don’t arrive with an empty stomach, when you’re only serving light hors d’oeuvres.
Determine your guest list and send invitations at least two or three weeks in advance. Request that your invitees RSVP by a specific date and adhere to that date. It will make the rest of your planning a lot easier if you know how many people will be attending your party. But don’t rush off and blindly start sending invitations. You will want to include important details of the tasting so your guests know what to expect and what they need to bring with them.
7. Serve the wine correctly
Regardless of the type sort of parties you’re hosting, the wine should be served at the right temperatures. It may be wise to invest in a wine fridge because wine needs to be very delicately handled and they keeps your favourite wine perfectly chilled and they looks great too!
8. The next wine tasting?
Before the tasting is over, be sure to decide who is going to host the next tasting! You could host again or you could all take turns, either way, you are sure to have a memorable and educational experience.