Want to Plan a Wine Tasting Party?
Here Are a Few Tips.
Who to invite?
Invite your friends and new acquaintances – in fact, anyone who likes wine or wants to learn more about it. There are a wealth of topics surrounding wine - including history, economics, cuisine and travel - especially after the first ounce has stimulated the palate and engaged the wit.
How many to invite?
Plan on serving 2-3 ounces of each wine per guest – with this in mind, one bottle will serve 8-10 guests. You can now estimate the amount of each wine you will need for the number of guests you plan to invite.
Use wines from our "Specials" assortments on the internet. Bring wines to the proper serving temperature – 45°/Sparkling; 55°/Whites; 65°/Reds. Be sure to have a few extra bottles on hand if you plan to serve food after the tasting.
At least 2 clear, stemmed glasses which can hold a minimum of 6 ounces per person (this will allow the wine to be swirled for aeration). Glassware should be supplied by the host but can be brought by each guest if need be.
Ice buckets filled with 1/2 water, 1/2 ice for chilling and holding sparkling and white wines
White table covering — butcher paper or an old sheet
Wine descriptors* and scoring sheets* and pencils (*included in your wine tasting kit)
Water and water glasses
Dump buckets or cups
Food with wine is more than just aesthetics, it's good hospitality. To properly taste a number of wines, it is necessary to be able to cleanse and refresh your palate between wines. It is a nice thought to provide additional foods for anyone who may not have a high tolerance for alcohol.
• During the tasting •
bland crackers or bread
grapes, tart apples and mild cheeses
• More Substantial •
Roast beef or paté
Assorted mild cheeses: robust cheeses may overpower some of the wines
• Pull out the stops •
A spicy dish: grilled sausage or Cajun shrimp.
Buttery dishes: a quiche or creamy cheeses like Brie.
Olive oil-based dishes: pasta.
Flavored breads: focaccia.
Red meat: roast beef, paté or meatballs.
Fruit: pears, apples, grapes, kiwi fruit, melons.
Chocolate: it works with some wines, try it.
WHERE to hold the tasting
Good light & ventilation are key, whether on the patio or in the dining room.
If it’s a casual tasting, allow plenty of room for guests to mingle. If it’s
a formal sit-down tasting, allow plenty of space for any additional tables
and chairs needed.
WHEN to hold the tasting
Many professional tasters believe that the early morning hours are the best
time to really taste wines, but that isn’t usually the most opportune time
for a social event. A relaxed weekend afternoon or any early evening will do
quite well. Be sure to plan the time to allow your guests to proceed to a
good meal, if you don’t plan to provide a lunch or dinner.
Set up the tasting —
The casual format allows guests to mingle and talk. Wines are set
buffet-style, with guests proceeding from one to the next at their own pace.
For serious examination of the wine, the sit-down tasting is the best.
Glassware is set at each place. Wines are served all at once or in groups of
2 or 3 (called "flights").
24 hours ahead: Stand all bottles upright to allow any sediment to settle.
2 hours ahead: Allow ample time for wine to reach the proper temperature: 45° for Sparkling; 55° for Whites; 65° for Reds. Don’t overchill white wines — keep the reds cool too.
1 hour ahead:
Casual event: Set up buffet tables; put descriptors by each wine.
Sit-down event: Set tables; put descriptors at each setting.
30 minutes ahead: Open the wines.
10 minutes ahead: Pour the first “flight” of wines (if it’s a sit-down tasting).
SUGGESTED ORDER OF TASTING:
Sparkling wines first (serve one as an aperitif if it isn’t one of the tasting wines)
light to full-bodied still white wines
light to full-bodied red wines
light to full-bodied dessert wines
ADD INTRIGUE…taste the wines “blind.”
Mask the identity of each wine by covering the bottles with paper bags or
aluminum foil. Alternately, you can tape colored construction paper over the
labels. Be sure to mark each wine properly, so you avoid confusion. Then
unveil the wines at the end so you know what each wine was. Even among the
pros, “blind” tasting offers plenty of surprises when the wines are unveiled.