An ideal starting point is choosing a theme. This helps direct what wines to taste, as well as give the evening structure.
Your needs for wine should include one bottle per six tasting servings; in addition, paper cups or spittoons, back-up corkscrews and an ice bucket will come in handy.
One of the key decisions you'll face when hosting a wine tasting party is selecting an appropriate theme. Although any theme will work fine, having something specific in mind will help narrow down which wines to serve and provide a focal point for discussion among your group members.
Vertical wine tastings compare the same wine variety produced across years; horizontal tastings highlight wines made by one producer or vineyard; while terroir-focused tastings explore how regional characteristics influence its taste.
After selecting your theme, the next step should be forming your guest list and selecting wines to serve. Aim for no more than eight people at your event to allow easier interaction among attendees. Make sure there's enough wine stocked up - most guests typically take two or three small tasting pours per bottle at each tasting event.
Planning a wine tasting party requires selecting wines that will appeal to most guests - particularly if your group includes novices or people with different taste preferences.
Choose a theme to help narrow your choices. Perhaps exploring one varietal or wine region (for instance six Chardonnays from Australia). Or opt for something broader such as Old World vs. New World wines.
Limit the number of wines tasted during an event to six to 10 bottles, depending on the size of your group, allowing for ample evaluation and discussion time for each wine sampled.
Your guests should either provide their own wines to share during a tasting event, or bring their favorite bottle for tasting purposes. Either way, having extra wines available would be wise in case someone was disappointed by a bottle they brought or there was breakage during transport.
Wine tasting is all about educating your guests about various wines. By providing them with food options and menu choices that complement each wine they tasted, wine tasting events make it easier for guests to discuss them as they identify their favorites.
Start off the evening right by providing guests with a light aperitif to relax them and set the scene for the event. Serve an assortment of appetizers along with wine. Finally, complete it all off with a light dinner and dessert course!
Your wine tasting party should involve 6-10 guests for maximum intimacy and discussion. Be sure to provide sufficient wine - at least 2 ounces should be available per guest.
Have a supply of clean wine glasses and water ready for pouring, as well as buckets or bowls to drain out any extra wine between tastings. Provide guests with ways to identify their glass (store-bought tags, glass markers or homemade tags are great solutions), and be sure to have enough paper towels handy in case any spills happen during their event.
Setting the ideal atmosphere can help your guests appreciate and learn about wines. Soft lighting, unscented candles and acoustic music are great way to set an intimate and conversation-inducing ambience. Make sure you have enough wine glasses available - you may need an extra set for red wines that need breathing room, while smaller glasses work best for white ones.
Start off your tasting right by providing guests with a light aperitif to help relax and prepare them for what lies ahead - such as serving bubbly and creamy cheese as pairs for different wines and their aromas and flavors. It can also help if pens and paper are available so your guests can keep track of their thoughts as they taste different wines; perhaps noting whether the wine was dry, sweet, its tannins were bold or whether there were notes of oak or black currant present - while writing down what their initial thoughts might be as they taste each one as well as taking notes as you taste them all along the way!