For centuries, people have come together over food and drink. If you’re looking for a fun way to bring friends together, show off your home decor, or try new things, a wine tasting party might be the perfect answer.
Although you may not consider yourself a wine expert, what better way to learn than by testing out some new varieties? Grab a few bottles of a good California Cabernet Sauvignon and invite a few friends! Hosting a wine sampling get-together is an easy and approachable way to try different types of wine.
How to Decorate and Prepare for Your Evening
Before your guests arrive, it is both fun and important to set the mood. While classic and understated decorations like a plain tablecloth and candles are always in style, you may also consider a seasonal or holiday theme depending on timing. You can also choose to focus on wines from a particular region and decorate in the local style to create an immersive experience.
Flowers bring elegance to a wine tasting party, which helps set the mood. Choose in-season flowers that complement the venue’s color scheme. In addition, signage can help your guests learn more about the wines you’re serving. But don’t go overboard with the decorations. The wine is the party’s star, so make sure the decorations don’t detract from it.
On a practical note, ensure that you have plenty of seating to accommodate your guests. If you anticipate having overnight visitors to avoid driving while intoxicated, it is also helpful to set up any sleeping areas ahead of the party. Consider what food you plan to serve and gather and prepare it.
The best preparation for hosting a wine tasting party is taking a sommelier course. Many sommelier courses are available; you can finish the most basic or introductory level in two to three days. They’re a great way to learn the basics of wine, including grape varieties, winemaking regions, and wine tasting.
A sommelier has a certification and extensive knowledge of wine, including its history, production, and tasting notes. They’re also skilled in pairing wine with food and creating a memorable dining experience. Such knowledge and skills can be put to good use when hosting a wine tasting party.
How to Decide on Wines
Of course, the most important part of your preparation will be choosing the wines to taste. You can invite your guests to bring their own wines to add an interesting twist to the event, or you can provide them yourself. While a trip to the wine store can seem overwhelming, consider the following to help narrow your selection:
- Region – You can either select only wines from one region or select wines from around the world.
- Price – Compare a “cheap” bottle of Pinot Grigio to a more expensive one. It is extraordinary to taste the difference in wines at various price points.
- Style – Select a variety of wines from the same style to find what suits you best. Some styles to consider include fresh, dry white wines or rich, intense reds.
- Vintage – Try discovering vintage wines. While finding vintage wines may be pricier or harder to find, it is interesting to taste how age can change a wine’s flavor profile.
- Let the Guests Decide – Keep a light tone to the event by encouraging people to bring their own selection.
When choosing wines for your party, it’s important to consider your guests’ preferences. If you’re not sure what wines they like, it’s always best to come up with an assortment from different regions and varietals.
How to Conduct Your Wine Tasting
If you’re not a wine connoisseur, conducting the tasting may seem daunting. Really, though, there is little to it, and the key is to keep things light and fun. Take into account the following suggestions to make your guests’ tasting experience memorable:
- Allotting one glass for every person is fine. Keep the glasses from getting mixed up by giving each person a unique wine glass charm.
- Color is a significant part of evaluating wines, so stay away from colored dish sets, provide good lighting, and give a white background to view against like a tablecloth or wall.
- Set out water, plain crackers, or a basic bread to cleanse your guests’ pallets in between tastings.
- Give your visitors the chance to dispose of wine by having a separate cup or container as a spit bucket.
- Provide pens and paper for taking notes for your guests to keep track of their favorite or least favorite wines.
- Start by pouring the recommended 2-ounce tasting for each person. Give ample time for each wine, then move to the next.
- If you’re feeling brave, take a stab at doing some additional investigation on how the tannins, acids, and sugars in food varieties connect with wines. Experiment with salted nuts, acidic lemon, harsh chocolate, or rich cheddar to see how each wine responds to different flavors.
- Spark conversation about the wines by providing some brief information and allowing your guests to share.
As the party host, you need to educate your guests about the wines they’re tasting. This can be done by providing tasting notes or leading a discussion about the wines, including wine pairings.
Wine tasting should be an enjoyable experience for everyone involved. Relax and have fun with your guests as you explore the world of wine.
An Event to Remember
Although some wines may seem unapproachable to novices, holding a tasting is a great way to try new varieties and enjoy good company. By following the tips above, your wine-tasting is sure to be a success your guests will enjoy and fondly remember.