Wine is a popular beverage at lunches, dinners and parties alike. Because so many people enjoy wine, why not host a party that makes wine the main event? Bring friends and family together for a wine tasting party!

Whether you are celebrating a birthday, anniversary or just being with loved ones, centering the celebration on the enjoyment of wine will make your party more festive and memorable. Wine tasting is an event that can bring friends, family and even co-workers closer together.

Not only will you be able to take pleasure in some of your standard favorites, but you can also give new wines a try. Before hosting your wine tasting party, learn some of our planning and hosting tips to be sure that your event is a success!

Wine Tasting Party: Choosing a Theme

The first thing to do when planning a wine tasting party is to choose a theme. Your theme will set the tone and atmosphere of your party (formal versus informal) and can help you plan the rest of the event. As you think about potential themes, decide whether you want your guests to bring each bring a bottle or to bring his or her favorite appetizers.

Although you may not want to ask your guests to bring anything, hosting a potluck style wine tasting party will not only lessen your work but will also provide more a eclectic variety of either wine or snacks to choose from. Because this event is a wine party, having your guests bring some type of wine is a fun way to try new wines while getting to know more about your guests” preferences.

Possible wine tasting party themes include:

  • Bring your favorite bottle: As the name suggests, each guest brings his favorite bottle of wine. As each bottle is opened, the guest who brought it can explain why this particular wine is his or her favorite. You can further limit this theme by asking your guests to bring their favorite red or white wine.
  • Choose a wine from region: Pick a wine region or country and ask your guests to bring a bottle from that specific location. While Spain, Italy and France are more traditional wine areas you can choose, you can also select a more obscure winemaking country, such as Australia, Chile or Japan.
  • Select a wine that will go with the set meal or snack list: Send each guest the set meal and/or appetizers you plan to serve at your party. Have each person bring a bottle that (s)he thinks will go best with the food you will serve.

Once you choose the wine party theme, you”ll need to decide whether or not you plan to serve a meal or a set of appetizers. Because you and your guests will be tasting a variety of wines at your party, serving various smaller appetizers is likely the better choice. This will prevent everyone from becoming too full before the wine and too drunk (because they can snack as they sample wine) as they go.

Wine Tasting Party: Creating The Atmosphere

Each of the above themes (or one you think of) can usually be adapted to a more or less formal atmosphere. Decide whether you want to have your guests dress up or come as they are, depending on the theme you choose. For example, while you may decide that your guests should come as they are if you host a “bring your favorite bottle” party, hosting a regional wine tasting party may require that guests dress up according to that region (e.g. Bring a wine from France, and dress in your best French couture getup!).

Similarly, the way you plan to have each guest sample and judge the wine will speak to how formal or informal you would like the wine party to be. If you want each guest to mark on judging cards, your event is likely to be a bit more formal. However, if you just want each guest to take a turn describing the wine after you all have tasted it, the setting of your wine party is going to be more informal.

The final aspect that will determine the level of formality is your guest list. Do you want to invite close friends and family? Or are you inviting your or your partner”s co-workers? Similarly, are you inviting wine connoisseurs or simply those who enjoy the occasional glass? Write out your guest list to determine how serious or low-key your guests will be so you can properly set and design the atmosphere of your wine party.

Wine Tasting Party: Choosing the Wine

While you may choose to have your guests bring some wine, you will also have to provide a number of bottles yourself (in case your guests forget to bring a bottle or those at your party are particularly thirsty!). Choosing the wine to serve at the party can depend on several different things, including the:

  • Balance: Because some of your guests will prefer reds while some will prefer whites, go half and half to satisfy everyone”s palate.
  • Food: Choose wines that will complement the foods you plan to serve. A good pairing of wine and food will bring out flavors in each that you otherwise wouldn”t have tasted. While traditionally reds go nicely with stronger meats (such as beef, veal and lamb) and white wines go nicely with chicken and fish, don”t be afraid to experiment. Pinot noirs, for example, are great with a hearty poultry such as turkey and Reislings are good with spicy foods and appetizers.
  • Your preferences: While this may seem like an obvious point, don”t forget that this is your party! Select wines that you enjoy or have always wanted to try. Wine tasting parties are more fun when you enjoy the flavors, as well as the company!

Wine Tasting Party: Organizing the Wines

Throwing wine tasting parties require you to set an order for sampling the wines. If you are not sure which order to serve the evening”s selections, be sure to ask for help. Many grocery stores and liquor outlets have experts on staff who can help you demystify the differences between the wines and select an interesting order. Here are some general tips for how to create a wine tasting order:

  • Finish with desert: Sweet deserts come at the end of meals because they refresh and cleanse the palate after a salty meal. In fact, the word dessert is derived from the Old French word desservir, meaning “to clear the table.” End your wine tasting party with sweet treats paired with nice dessert wines, such as a Ports or ice wines.
  • Move from lightest to darkest: Start with the lightest white wine and work your way through the reds, finishing with the heaviest, full-bodied wine. Working through in this order will allow you and your guests detect the delicacies of lighter wines because your palates haven”t been blinded by heavier selections.

If you follow these tips, then you can also facilitate the serving process. For example, should you need to decant a red wine, do this as you taste whites. That way, by the time you are ready for the reds, they will also be ready for you because they have finished decanting! If you are unsure of which wines need decanting, ask your wine expert if you should decant the wine, as well as how long you should wait after decanting to serve it.

Wine Tasting Party: Wine Glasses

One important aspect to remember when planning your wine tasting party is to make sure you have enough wine glasses to go around. Each person will need at least two: one for sampling reds and one for whites (if you will be serving both). Keep a large pitcher of water on hand for people to rinse their glasses out between wines. Also, have a large ice bucket or receptacle on hand to catch used rinse water or unwanted wine.

If, however, you are hosting a more serious wine tasting party, you may want to provide fresh glasses for each wine so that flavors of different wine don”t overlap or obscure each other.

Also, use wine charms or wine glass nametags so that everyone knows whose glass is whose. Make nametags out of little circle stickers with each person”s initials written on them. Then place the sticker at the base of the glass to minimize interaction with it and prevent it from falling off.

Type of Wine Party Distribution of Wine
Drinking 1 Bottle = 4 Glasses

Tasting1 Bottle serves 8-10 guests.

 Posted on : May 15, 2014