Guide to Hosting a Wine Tasting Party

When you use lighter wines in warm weather, bold and hearty varietals in winter, a wine tasting party is appropriate at any time of the year, but during the winter holiday season, it is an excellent way to get together with friends in a comfortable setting to explore and enjoy a different experience or, at least, share some new and interesting flavors.

The Wine

The coolest thing about a wine tasting party is there is no end to the wine comparisons you might consider as you make your party unique and of special interest to your guests. Often, this is also the most challenging element of the tasting until you begin to consider the possibilities.

A simple pairing of wine and cheese, or wine and chocolate, usually provokes approval among even the most casual wine tasters.

Tastings that spark comparisons of vintage years, varietals produced within the same year, or any number of comparisons of cost or popularity, are all fair game at a wine tasting.

SWILLA Wine Tasting Party Kit is good help with plenty of details. Also, your favorite wine shop might be a strong source of information and guidance, plus there is the distinct possibility the owner of the shop is an expert who would love to do a presentation at your tasting party and, possibly, sell a few bottles of wine.

Invitations

About 12 guests are usually a comfortable group for casual wine tasting. Keep the mood light and fun. After all you are there to taste and enjoy as you discover new flavors and ways of thinking about wine, not to display any deep knowledge as a connoisseur.

A bit of careful planning, some cheerful over-the-phone or e-mail invitations, and you are well on your way to a comfortable and affordable party that might easily become the highlight of the season.

Be sure everyone understands your event is a wine tasting, not dinner nor a cocktail party. If you are not serving a full meal, be sure your guests understand this.

Choosing your Theme

A good way to get the party started is serve hors d’oeuvres and sparkling water while guests gather, then move quickly into the tasting, and finish with dessert. This works especially well when most guests are moving on to dinner at another location.

Another approach is to serve a light dinner followed by wine tasting and dessert.

An after dinner tasting of dessert wines, cookies and sweets followed by small, hot cups of coffee can be deliciously different. A few savory “frivolities” like bits of cheese or toasted nuts, mellow the sweetness of the desserts.

Arranging your Entertainment Space

A large table with comfortable chairs is ideal. If this is not possible, try to provide a comfortable chair, plus a place to put a wine glass and note pad, for each guest. Your last choice might be to have guests stand around your kitchen island.

Ask guests to make notes as they taste and share their observations after the glass; surprisingly, humor usually wins over most serious and studied considerations.

Wine tastings can be as simple or complicated as you choose. About 2 ounces of wine is an adequate taste.

Try to provide appropriate glasses for each general type of wine (examples: White, red, dessert). Baskets with cubes of plain bread and glasses of water for sipping help clear the palate between wines. Also, it is convenient to have an inconspicuous place (bucket) to discard any excess wine or rinse a glass when necessary.