Host a Tasting Party
If you’re looking for a fun and engaging way to share your love of wine with your friends and family, hosting a wine tasting party can be a great option for your next special event. While the idea of hosting a wine tasting party may sound intimidating, we’ve put together the following recommendations to ensure your tasting event is a success every time.
1) Plan your guest list: The first step in planning your Wine Tasting Party is to estimate your number of guests and make sure your room is filled with good company. Generally, we recommend a minimum group of between 8-16 guests.
2) Plan your tasting theme: It’s best to have a tasting theme set for your event. You can either provide all the wines for the tasting or ask guests to bring a wine for the tasting. Here are a few tasting themes to consider:
- Wine Varietals 101: Introduce your group to different grape varietals Example: White Wines: Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris / Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Red Wines: Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah / Shiraz
- Varietal Exploration: Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Noir around the world: Pick one grape varietal and taste a variety of different wines produced from the same grape, but from different wine regions around the world. Have your guests explore the influence “terrior” has on the flavor and style of each wine. Example: Cabernet Sauvignon: California, Washington, France, Australia, Argentina,Chile Pinot Noir: California (Sonoma), California (Central Coast), Oregon (Willamette Valley), France (Burgundy), Australia, New Zealand
- Regional Spotlights: Pick a wine producing region and have your guests explore a variety of wines from that specific area. Example: California: Sauvignon Blanc (Napa Valley), Chardonnay (Russian River Valley), Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast or Carneros), Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Italy: Pinot Grigio (Alto Adige), Arneis (Piedmonte), Chianti (Tuscany), Nero d’Avola (Sicily), Nebbiolo (Piedmonte), Amarone (Veneto)
- Blind Tasting Party: This is an advanced level tasting. Select a variety of different wines, without letting your guests know which wine is which, have your guests try to determine which wine they are tasting.
3) Set Up For Your Event:
- Seating: Make sure you have enough space for everyone to gather where they can easily interact with one another and hear the host speak. Each guest should be seated or given enough room to stand comfortably around a table. Try not separate the group too much because it can be difficult to keep everyone focused…especially towards the end.
- Lighting: An important aspect of the tasting experience is to be able to visually evaluate the wine. Try to conduct your tasting in a well lit space so guests can easily evaluate the color variance between the different wines.
- Glassware: When possible it is preferred to have a fresh glass for each wine that is being featured. Having a place setting of all the different wines poured side by side is not only visually appealing, but it also allows guests to compare wines side by side to best evaluate the differences between wines. If you are limited on glassware you should at least offer 1 glass for white wine and 1 glass for red wine.
- Tasting Notes: Having tasting descriptions and information on the different wines that you are serving can be a helpful guide to educate your guests and assist them in better understanding the wines they are tasting.
4) During the Event: Make sure guests have access to water and either bread or crackers to help clean their palate between wines without influencing the flavor of the wines. If you are going to serve food at the event, it is best to serve appetizers before and after the tasting, but limit food during the tasting portion of the event, unless you are specifically conducting a food and wine pairing event. The wines should be sampled on their own without the influence of food so each guest gets the truest expression of the wine.
5) After the Event: Let your guests know where they can purchase the great wines that they just tasted (WineStyles…of Course). It is also nice to email a list of the wines and any special notes, comments or observations that the group made about the wines as a fun recap of the nights festivities.