With the ever-expanding universe of wine, it’s nearly impossible to keep up. For any wine enthusiast, wine tastings are a great way to educate your palate and enjoy some good company. So grab some coworkers, friends, family, neighbors, or whoever you’d like. Here are some tips to host a flawless wine tasting party.
An important question to ask when arranging a tasting is about the purpose: what’s the goal? Are you interested in comparing old world wines to the new world? Looking for adventurous new reds? Or are you just looking to have some fun, enjoying good company and good wine? Just remember, a well-coordinated tasting relies on a clear plan and objective for the wine lineup.
Ask your Wine Steward for ideas on fun wines to try at your tasting; they are a great resource for getting started!
Once you have an idea of what you want to taste, we can move on to the logistics.
As obvious as it might seem, proper glassware is crucial in a tasting. A universal glass for both whites and reds is totally acceptable, and the consistent glassware also looks better on the table. Some tastings will provide a single glass or present separate glassware for each wine. The style is completely up to you.
Pro Tip: Glassware can be expensive, so we would recommend finding event/wedding rental companies in your area to rent glassware from.
Apart from the wine glassware, water glasses, spit cups, and some note-taking journals are all good things to provide.
While everyone thinks the best tastings happen in a stunning wine cellar or a lovely villa on the coast, some of our favorite tastings happen in cozy living rooms with close friends. Your tasting experience can be everything you want it to be - and there's no need to stress about not being fancy enough - taste as you are!
The more clear surfaces for glassware, the better. This isn't as important if you are going the single-glass route (see above), as finding space for one glass is easier than six. Dining room tables are perfect for tastings as well.
Depending on if dinner is to follow the tasting, we recommend some light hors d'oeuvres before the tasting. A glass of sparkling wine pre-tasting is also a good move - it will actually wake up your guests' taste buds! During the tasting, however, some light soda crackers should do the trick - anything heavier than that can taint the palate.
Wine tasting parties are great occasions for a slow roast in the oven. Have your dinner in the oven while you and your guests are enjoying great wine before a great meal!
As mentioned above, a small glass of sparkling wine before the tasting is a great idea to wake everyone's taste buds up. There are a few different ways to run your tasting, some of them including blind, varietal-only, or open. Blind .tasting, as you could guess, is a complete mystery to your guests. In varietal tasting, guests know the varietal, but no country of origin or producer. Both of these would require bottles to be brown-bagged, or at least with hidden labels. Open tasting is pretty straightforward, with all the information available to your guests before tasting. We prefer blind or varietal tasting, as opinions on wine can vary based on the producer's reputation, label design, and definitely price.
When pouring wine, progressing from light to dark is a must. A dark wine with more body and tannin will cover up a lighter wine, masking subtle notes and characteristics.
In our opinion, it's more important to discuss the impression of the wine, rather than the specific tasting notes. How does the wine make you feel? Again, this is our opinion, but that subtle gooseberry and cut grass aroma on the nose doesn't matter if the wine isn't balanced and enjoyable.
Your local Wine Stewards look forward to answering any questions about your next party!