Everyone loves wine, and everyone loves a party, so why not combine the two? Here are our top five tips to guarantee a successful wine tasting party.
1. Pick a Theme
Focus in on what you are trying to do. Of course, everyone wants to have fun, but are you trying to learn about a specific region? Determine the best food pairing? Find the perfect bottle at your local wine shop? This will help determine what wines your partygoers need to bring.
Have everyone bring a bottle of the same varietal, but from different regions. For example, compare Dry Creek Valley Cabernet Sauvignon with its counterpart from Napa, Central Coast, Washington or Bordeaux.
Choose a specific price range and see what new treasures you can find within your budget.
Choose a specific region (Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County, California, France, etc.) and taste through several wines unique to that area.
It’s all for fun anyway!
2. Choose Your Method
– Blind Tasting
Have a neutral third party put them into paper bags or wrap in foil and label them with a number. If you are going for a more festive and fun atmosphere, taste one at a time, discuss (or argue passionately), then reveal. If you want to take a more serious approach, taste all of the wines while writing notes about aromas, flavors and textures, then discuss and reveal. If you are providing all of the wines, have a trusted wine shop select and wrap the wines for you, so even you are in on the blind!
– Round Robin
Have everyone bring their own wine concealed in a sock, so they know which wine is theirs. Take turns asking one question (make it harder by only asking yes/no questions) until someone can name what the wine/varietal/region is.
3. Find the Wines
Head to your local wine shop first and see what expertise they can lend you. Many times they will give you a pearl of wisdom to make you look extra knowledgeable in front of your friends. If you can’t find what you are looking for locally, turn to online retailers to find the perfect bottle or order directly from a winery and check their website for notes about the vintage.
4. Grab the Extras
Good, clean glasses are important in the tasting process. Avoid detergents with strong odors and have some additional glasses waiting in the wings!
– Spit Cups
It’s very important to taste responsibly, so encourage your guests to spit after tasting and discard any extra wine in the glass. When trying to evaluate wines, less is more!
Depending on what your theme is, your palate can tire quickly with big, bold reds. Have water on hand to keep hydrated and refreshed between sips.
Now that you have discovered new regions/varietals/wines, you need to remember them! Jot down descriptors such as the color, smells and tastes. There is no wrong answer!
5. Don’t Forget the Food!
Set out plenty of bread or crackers while tasting in order to cleanse the palate. Depending on your theme, you could try pairing various foods with the wines to see how they change and react to various components. Common pairings include dark chocolate, salted nuts, dried fruits, and hard or creamy cheeses. Make sure to let your guests know what will be served so that they don’t arrive with empty stomachs if you are only serving light snacks.
All in all, you are combining two of the best things in life: wine and friends! Cheers!