One Saturday evening this winter we decided to meet with a bunch of friends for a wine tasting. Though the wine was provided by a pr company, a wine tasting doesn’t need to be expensive or costly. It’s a great way to get to know people. We made some new friends and had time to chat and enjoy each others company and learn about our friends in a relaxing atmosphere. Our party is not the serious wine connoisseur’s party, it’s a fun gathering of friends trying out wine. Would we do it again – definitely! Here are a few suggestions for hosting a successful wine tasting party.
1. Have wine, spirits, non-alcoholic refreshment, something fun but not too much. Five or six different wines is the limit, so that you don’t overwhelm everyone with too many choices. The distinction between a big party and a wine tasting is that you aren’t going to seriously drink and forget what you’ve done, you’re there to taste the wine and talking about the wine is key to a good wine tasting. However, chatting off topic is enjoyed and encouraged; really good gossip is a plus.
2. Agree to disagree – because you are there to relax and have a good time. There are no winners, no losers, no ties- at the end of the party hopefully you found something new to enjoy, or even something to avoid. Different people have different palates and the goal is to find what suits you – the goal is not a consensus. If you come to an agreement, it could be a really good wine to look for again.
3. Be prepared. Have on hand at least one glass for each person, appropriate for serving the drink. While you might drink out of a juice glass (or in our case – Pom glasses), when hosting a wine party have at least wine glasses. If it was Martini night use Martini glasses. The tone can be set by using the proper glassware. Another good to have on hand is a dump bucket so you can dump out those you didn’t like or want to finish. The object isn’t to drink it all, it’s to have fun. We’re not part of the clean glass club. Five or six different wines is the limit, so that you don’t overwhelm everyone with too many choices.
4. Over prepare. I got the tasting notes for the wines we tried out and made copies for all of the couples to share. Since we aren’t experts, we liked the suggested notes and also sometimes disagreed with their assessment but it was part of the fun. If you were working with mixed drinks, you would want to include copies of recipes so that it could be duplicated. For the wine tasting, I wish I had made up little score cards. When reporting on a review for a blog, an overall assessment is nice to present, though not necessary for the group itself.
5. Have snacks that everyone can enjoy. We had a potluck, lots of bites to munch on while you are sipping. The only suggestion really is to avoid too much spicy or very heavy foods because it can throw your palate off, and it may mask the flavor of the wine. Fruit and cheese always work well.
6. A theme my not be necessary but a nice to have. Suggested themes could be:
- 5.00 a bottle night
- Local area wines within 50 miles
- Wines by state of your birth
- Bring a bottle you piked up on vacation night.
- You can have a food and wine pairing where you bring a wine to go with your theme dinner
- A potluck where you bring a dish and a wine to pair it with.
- Reds (or Whites)
- Bubbles (sparkling wines, bruts, champagnes)
7. Blind tasting – if you are serious wine drinkers, a blind tasting might be the way to go. Cover the bottle, so that no one knows the name, the brand, the label – and then you can seriously discuss all of it’s attributes. If I were to cover the bottles, I’d probably do guessing games to figure out which attributes went with which bottles. I’m not so serious.
8. Sniff, Swirl, Sip, Spit - I think that’s the correct order.
Valentines Day is coming up, and this would be a great couples way to have fun. Gather some of your best pals, a couple of bottles of wine and get some tasting going on. This would be great for an Oscar party – or Bachelor reunion cat party or just couples night – cause we like to gather and do some sipping.
Here are some websites that could help with your next wine tasting.
Food and Wine – How to Host a Wine Tasting
Epicurious – Wine Tasting Party Tips
The Skinny Gourmet – How to Host a Wine Tasting
Williams and Sonoma – How to Host a Wine Tasting Party
Disclosure: The wines were provided to me and we planned a wine tasting. It was very nice.
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