Looking for a fresh twist to add interest to your next dinner party? Try hosting a wine tasting at your home. You don’t have to have a sommelier’s knowledge to host the party; just doing a little bit of homework before the event will make sure that your guests have fun, and you do too.
Get in Some Wine-Tasting Practice
If you haven’t been to a wine tasting lately, see if you can schedule one in at a local wine shop or winery before you host your own party. While there, note how the wines are represented, how many wines there are and what you felt were the most fun aspects of the event. Depending on the venue’s size, you will surely want to make some changes, since hosting an event for a group of friends will be more intimate than attending a promotional event. However, you should be able to pick up some good ideas.
Choose a Theme
Just like food, there are hundreds if not thousands of themes around which you can build your party. You could feature local reds, wines from just one grape, wines from a single label, Spanish wines or a representation of Mediterranean wines. You could even present wines mentioned in books or films your invitees know. Your theme could take into account what food, if any, you’ll be serving.
Most experts recommend serving food of some kind at your wine tasting, as many if not most wines open up their full flavor potentials when paired with a bite to eat. If you’re serving a full dinner, then having a different wine to taste with each course of the meal makes sense. For example, if you choose a Mediterranean theme, you could serve a variety of Prosecco with the appetizers and a Greek white with the salad course. Move on to heavier Italian reds with the meats and sides and finish off with a touch of something sweet served next to Spanish dessert wine.
However, if you think your party would be more fun with less food to prepare, having wines paired with different cheeses or snacks, or after a single-course meal, will be fine. Just be sure to have water and bread or mild crackers available for guests to use to cleanse their palates so they can taste each wine best.
Select Your Wines
Once you’ve decided on your theme, you’ll need to do some wine shopping. Picking out the best wines for your party should be fun, especially if you decide you need to taste them before you offer them to your guests. A medium-sized wine tasting should involve at least five or six varieties of wine, and the most you should serve is 10 or so. Though more wines to try might sound like more fun, all the flavors can overwhelm your taste buds and then you’ll start missing out on the subtle nuances that make trying different wines such a joy.
Prepare a Tasting Card and Other Information
The best wine tasting events give guests a card or checklist to fill out for each wine. This is a fun bit of busywork during the evening, but it also has a practical purpose. When your guests have a souvenir of the evening that lists the kinds of wines that they tried and notes that indicate what they liked and disliked about each variety, then they’ll be able to find and drink that wine again. The tasting card and its points will also offer a basis for discussion about the wines that you try and allow guests who have never attended a wine tasting before to enter the conversation.
If you know that your guests really enjoy learning about wine — as opposed to only enjoying drinking it — then you can also prepare some trivia about the varieties you’ll drink or about the labels they came from. If you or one of your guests have visited any of the wineries that you’re featuring at the party, then you’ve got a great opportunity to have a quick talk or show some pictures about the experience.
It is great fun to gather with friends around a bottle of wine, so why not make the wine the reason for the gathering? Wine tastings aren’t only for vineyards, and they don’t have to break the bank. Follow these tips, and you’ll find yourself hosting regular wine tasting events — and loving it.
About the Author: Erica loves looking for great wine deals at City Wine Cellar whenever she hosts a dinner or other function.