Wine Tasting Party
Below are some helpful steps to get you on your way to planning your wine tasting:
Selecting your wines.
When selecting wines for your event, consider the objective of the tasting party – to explore wines while comparing the styles and quality. A basic tasting party focuses on a specific varietal. You may also try focusing on a region or appellation. Vertical flights are also an option, when a series of vintages for a specific wine is tasted. Be adventurous yet practical and most of all, have fun!
The Guest List and Wine Buying
Determine who you want to invite and if your guests will be bringing wines. A good suggestion is to send an e-mail or invitation two weeks in advance that outlines the theme of the party and encourages guests to bring wine as well. However, as the host of the event, you'll want to purchase enough wine for everyone, for those "just in case" moments.
Your invitation may include:
- Theme of wine tasting party: what varietal, vintage, region, country, etc will the wines be focused on.
- A price set that will help anyone on a budget
- A general description of the menu that will be paired with the wines
Selecting the Wine
Many local groceries offer a wide selection of fine wines from around the world. You may also want to visit a wine store with a knowledgeable staff to answer any questions you might have. Consider selecting wine you would not normally purchase.
Wine tasting parties can be as casual or formal as you would like. The basic supplies for a wine tasting party are:
- Plain bread or crackers: Something light that will help "clean the palate" and pairs with all types of wines.
- Wine glasses: At least one per guests
- Pitcher of water: For cleaning out the glasses between each tasting.
- Dump bucket: For discarding wine before next pouring or spitting out
- Tasting cards & pens/pencils: For describing and recording each wine tasted
- Paper bags: To cover the labels for blind tastings
If possible, serve the wines on a large table with good lighting. A cheap white tablecloth is recommended as solid background to assess the color of the wines.
Atmosphere & Education
Set the atmosphere and decorate! Keep the feeling light and casual, with lots of comfort. Atmosphere is key to the enjoyment of wine, so make sure and have the right mood. Candles should be unscented so they won't interfere when smelling the wine. We recommend cheap table linens so that, if stained, it won't hurt the bank to throw them away.
It's what you've been waiting for! People taste wines in all different ways, but typically you want to work from sweet to dry with white wines and progress from light to full-bodied with red wines. Note unique color, smells, and flavors - but above all, have fun. This is not a professional wine tasting, it's education, so enjoy. A simple tasting card to write down your observations and thoughts is always a good idea, especially if you find a wine you want to purchase yourself. You may also want to send an email or note after the party that includes a list of the wines served and where they were purchased so that guests can buy a bottle of their own.