Planning a wine tasting at home? Here’s what you need to do
Whether it’s a birthday party, a holiday celebration or a just a casual get-together, a wine tasting party is a fun event for all those who love wine. Wine tastings are not only entertaining, but also great for exploring and learning about new wines, regions, grapes, and styles. Nevertheless, hosting a wine party of any scale and theme might be a bit daunting, and sometimes even intimidating and confusing.
If you find yourself facing the wine isle, not knowing what to get for your wine tasting party, here are eight tips to help you throw a successful wine party at home and turn you into the best host among your circle of friends.
1.Choose a Theme
This is an opportunity to share a wine region and wine grapes that you know and love, or step outside your comfort zone and try new wines. Here are some themes to consider:
Wine Place Theme
Choose a well-known wine region (for example, Napa, Sonoma, Burgundy, Tuscany…. etc), or a specific wine country (i.e. Italy, Spain, France, USA, Chile, New Zealand, Australia…etc.)
Wine Variety/Grape Theme
There are so many options to choose from, if you decide to do a wine tasting party based on grape varieties. You can focus on Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc…etc.
Wine Color Theme
This may seem too broad, but if your guests have a specific preference, then choose either red wines, white wines or rosé.
You can California Cabernet Sauvignon, Barolo, Chianti, Oregon Pinot Noir, or red Rhône blends,…etc.
White wines may include Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscadet, Chenin Blanc,…etc.
Rosé wines, which are so popular for spring and summer, can come in different styles from light to rich, and fruity to elegant. Try rosé wines from Provence, Loire Valley, California, or Italy and compare.
Vertical Tasting Theme
If you have a favorite producer, then you can pour wines from the same label/producer, from the same variety, but different vintages.
Horizontal Tasting Theme
Curious how wine tastes differently from one producer to another? Then choose wines from the same grape variety, same vintage and region, but from different producers.
Sparkling Wine Theme
There is plenty of sparkling wines in the market that are so delicious to try. Consider wines from Champagne, Cava, or Cérmant..etc. and pick your favorites.
2. Set Your Budget
Before choosing and buying specific wines for your wine tasting party, you need to decide how much you’re willing to spend at your tasting. But first, try to estimate how much wine your group will consume. Keep in mind that:
- One bottle of wine contains 750ml/25oz.
- A standard size of a glass of wine is 5oz, but a tasting pour is about 2-3oz.
- An ideal wine flight should include 4-5 wines.
In general, one bottle can roughly make 8 pours. Once you establish how much you’ll be pouring at the wine party, you can decide the average price of the bottle and number of bottles to open.
3. Select Your Wines
Get your wines at a local wine store. The wine manager or associate is there to help you and give advice and suggestions. So don’t hesitate to ask your questions and request the help of a wine professional.
4. Create a Cheese & Charcuterie Board
Create a cheeseboard that goes with your wine. Choose four to five kinds of cheese, two kinds of charcuteries, and two kinds of crackers. It’s also a good idea to throw in some nuts and dried fruit for flavor and color. Dips are great at any wine tasting too, but make sure the flavor isn’t too strong, otherwise it can overpower the wine. Try hummus and baba ghanouj dips—they are particularly great with rosé and sparkling wines.
*Note about assembling a cheeseboard: choose a soft cheese like chevre or brie, a semi-soft cheese like Taleggio, a semi-hard cheese like Comte, and hard aged cheese like Manchego or Parmesan.
5. Set a Date and Send Your Invitation
Most people prefer to do a wine night on a Friday or Saturday. Make sure you have enough time on that day to set up the tasting supplies, wines, and food.
Use evite.com or design a digital invitation on Canva.com and send it via text messages or email. Make sure you set a date for RSVPs to have enough time to buy what you need for your stellar wine tasting party.
6. Serve The Wines at The Right Temperature
Wine temperature can be a game changer as it really affects flavors and aromas. In general, red wines are best served at room temperature at 62°F and up to 68°F, white and rosé wines need to be chilled and served at 49°F up to 55°F. Whereas sparkling wines are best served between 43°F and 47°F.
It’s also a good idea to have a dump bucket, in case someone doesn’t like the wine or chooses to have fewer sips—but who wants to waste a good wine!
7. Make Sure Your Guests Stay Hydrated
Serving water at a wine tasting is essential because your guests need to stay hydrated during the tasting. Water also helps freshen up their palate between pours, not to mention, stay more focused.
8. Plan Some Fun Wine Games
There are many wine trivia games and wine boardgames available in the market for different wine knowledge levels. Choose something fun that suits your group or create your own. For example, ask blind-folded players to guess if the wine is red or white, or describe the wines like a wine critic, or guess the name of the variety..etc.
Finally, Be Sensible!
Needless to say, wine tasting is not about gulping wine mindlessly. When done with moderation, wine tasting is an engaging social experience that’s meant to be fun, interactive, stimulating, and sensible too. In fact, it’s been scientifically proven that intentional wine tasting can activate several sensory systems in the brain— so consider this thought next time you go to a wine tasting, for you might leave the party feeling smarter and savvier.
Cheers to savvy wine lovers!