Wine lovers can easily find themselves in a drinking rut, meaning they find a bottle they like and it becomes their “house wine,” week after week, month after month.
That’s why hosting a wine tasting party is a great excuse for gathering your favorite friends together. Attendees can explore new varieties otherwise not on their radar, giving everyone an opportunity learn a thing or two about wine at the same time.
Hosting a wine tasting party isn’t difficult, but it starts with choosing a theme. You must decide which kind of wines you want to serve. There’s no right answer that will please all your guests or lead to a perfect party, but here are some suggestions:
- Sample different wines from one region, such as Monterey County, Napa Valley, Santa Barbara, Rioja, New Zealand, the South of France, or dozens of others.
- Taste varietals produced in different parts of the world, such as drinking only the Cabernet Sauvignon produced in Napa Valley, France, or Argentina.
- Do a horizontal tasting. For example, taste only 2012 Chardonnays produced all over the world.
- Feature wines that can be purchased for $10 or under — except one that’s $40 or more. But don’t tell any of the guests ahead of time, just that they are to evaluate each separately. At the end of the tasting reveal the secret and have them guess which bottle was the more expensive one.
- Do a tasting by one winemaker. If you really like Stag’s Leap, or Duckhorn wine, for example, try several different wines from this one producer.
- Sample only reds, whites, sparkling wines, or dessert wines. Just remember that dessert wines tend to be sweeter and may be more difficult to taste.
- Host a progressive wine tasting party, where each host can prepare an appetizer and pair it with wine from different regions. To make each wine tasting special, have each host add a few decorative touches that relate to the wine region or country they’re representing.
Get guests involved
Want a clever way to display the wines for your party? Lay out oversized craft paper onto a table. Place the bottles on the paper and write the name of the wine, region, and any other details. Place pens by each bottle. Guests can write comments about each wine right on the paper, and it’s fun to see what everyone writes about each wine.
How much wine should you serve?
The general rule of thumb is 2 ounces per person for the specific wine you will be tasting. So each bottle will serve about 8 guests. So if you will be having 8 guests present, 1 bottle per category should be enough.
Other important tips
- Have various types and sizes of wine glasses on hand. For a formal wine tasting, have a minimum of 2 wine goblets per guest.
- Use dump buckets, glass cups or use plastic cups for those who want to spit. If you will be tasting a lot of wine, the best way is not to swallow, ensuring your palette stays fresh.
- Have water glasses and water pitchers available. Use bottled water only.
- Put out crackers or pieces of bread, but they should be plain and not flavored.