We are fast approaching the holiday season, and so now is the perfect time to think about holiday entertaining. Consider hosting a wine tasting party for your next gathering. Wine tasting is a fun elegant way to jazz up any party, whatever the season. So go ahead and send out the invites and follow these simple steps:
Choose a wine tasting theme: This is the fun part and probably the most important as the theme will set the tone for the night.
- Regions: Travel the world through your glass. Explore a specific wine region you love or have wanted to travel to. Some fun examples are Loire Valley, Tuscany, Sicily, or New Zealand.
- Grape Variety: Do you have a favorite grape? Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, or Syrah? Maybe you select a theme like “Cabernet Sauvignon from Around The World.” Find wines from some of the most celebrated wine regions for Cabernet Sauvignon; like California, Washington, France, and Australia.
- Blind Tasting: My favorite is tasting wines blind. Blind tasting gives you and your guests the perfect opportunity to test your palate. You can make this theme into a fun game. Have your guest guess the grape variety, region, or vintage. The person with the most correct guesses wins a prize.
- Bring Your Favorite: Wine lovers are always excited to show off their latest wine discovery. Have guests bring their favorite bottle of wine to share and taste. This is a great way to get your guests involved and excited.
Prepping for the party: Wine tasting is best enjoyed in an intimate setting with twelve guests or fewer. Small groups always inspire conversations and an exchange of tasting notes and experiences.
- The right amount of wine is key. One 750ml bottle of wine has approximately 25 ounces. Typical tastings are 2 ounce pours, so 12 tastings per bottle. Plan on half a bottle to one bottle per guest.
- Good wines glasses are a must. Set out two Bordeaux style glasses for each guest. This will allow them to taste wines side by side to compare and contrast.
Nibbles & bites: Let the wines take center stage and be the stars of the evening. Keep the food simple so that it can pair with a wide variety of wines. The ideal nibbles are crackers, artisanal breads, an assortment of soft and hard cheeses, mixed olives, charcuterie, nuts and dark chocolate. Keep in mind that guests will be drinking a lot, so the spread should be substantial and generous.
Music: There are countless studies on how music affects wine, so be sure to dedicate some time to creating the right playlist and setting the perfect vibe for the party. Don’t be afraid to mix it up, and include music from the region where the wine is from. Or keep it simple and head over to Spotify, where you’ll find numerous wine-related playlists.
Setup: Create a warm and inviting atmosphere with music, candles (unscented, so as not to interfere with the wine), table setting and lighting. Chill the white wines two hours before guests arrive and pop the red wines into the refrigerator a half hour before serving. As the host, be sure to taste the wines beforehand to make sure the bottles are pristine.
Serving the wines: It is always nice to welcome your guests with champagne or sparkling wine to set a festive fun mood. Before you begin tasting, give your guest a small note pad and pen for tasting notes. The serving order can be important. Think about serving wine in a progression of lightest to darkest. Start with sparkling wine, then whites, rosés and lastly reds.
Consider closing out the evening with a surprise dessert wine. As a nice gesture, send your guests home with any leftover wines. Enjoy!