How to Throw a Successful Wine Tasting Party
You want to host a gathering of your friends, but you don’t want it to be the same old night where you just eat, drink and hang out. Then it hits you: throw a wine tasting party!
Two seconds later, it hits you on the rebound: “Wait, how do you organize a wine tasting?!”
Relax, we’ve got your back. Read on for a brief overview of the whole process. The key to remember: make it fun! You want your guests to have a great time, enjoy some good wine and maybe even learn a thing or two. Make sure they don’t feel intimidated or like they can’t really be a part of things. In short, don’t take it too seriously and do make your guests feel at ease. Tell everyone that there are no wrong answers because personal taste is subjective – just encourage them to say what they like and don’t like about each wine.
You’ll have a great time and your friend will be impressed at your ingenuity. Let’s get started!
Choosing the Wine
A wine tasting designed around a common theme makes the evening easier to plan, as well as more educational and entertaining. It also makes choosing your wines much easier. A couple of classic themes:
- A single wine from different vintages
- Several wines from the same region (i.e. wines from Napa Valley)
- A single type of wine from several regions (i.e. Malbec from Argentina, France, etc.)
- A blind comparison of cheap vs. expensive wines
- Wines under $20
- And much more
How much wine do you need?
A standard tasting pour of wine is usually about half the size of a regular serving, so you’re looking at 2-3 ounces. A bottle of wine will get you about 10 taste servings, but it’s always good to have extra, so for a party of 8-10, plan on buying two bottles of every kind of wine you want to test.
- Wine Opener
- Identical Wine Glasses
- Palate Cleanser (water crackers)
- Personal Spittoon (plastic cups are fine)
- Dump Bucket
- Decanter (for bold red wine)
- Wine bags (if you are including any blind tastings)
Make sure you prepare the space before your guests arrive. Decant any red wines that need to breathe before being consumed, set the table, organize appetizers and it never hurts to have music playing in the background. One note on odors – keep the tasting area as neutral as possible in regard to smell. If the room smells like bacon, your wine will taste like bacon also.
Another tip – you can rent glassware if you don’t have enough wine glasses for the amount of people you will be hosting. Glasses will cost about $1-$3 each and you probably won’t even have to wash them afterwards. The extra money will save you loads in time, stress and clean up.
Professional wine tastings usually include only crackers (to cleanse your palate), a bottle of water and a spittoon, so you can keep it just as simple. If you do want to include food, make it in the form of an appetizer station where guests can serve themselves. Choose single-serve appetizers that are easy to hold and eat with a napkin or small plate, such as cheese, fresh fruit, bread or cured meats.
Stagger your wine service in about 15-minute intervals. This will give your guests time to analyze each wine and discuss what they like and don’t like about each one. It’s also a good idea to print out the technical information about each wine and have it available during the tasting so you can answer people’s questions.
See, it’s not as hard as you thought, right? Jump right in and you could be hosting a wine tasting next week!