If you simply enjoy wine, or are a bona fide wine expert, hosting a wine tasting is a great opportunity to have some fun with friends while trying some new vintages. Planning is simple! Invite a few good friends, select a few varieties to sample, and your party is off and running.
Pair a wine tasting with a family dinner, or add a champagne tasting to your parents gold anniversary dinner. Wine works with all occasions! If you would like to add a sense of competition to the party, try dividing your guests into male and female groups and see which one does better in a blind tasting.
First decide what you want to taste. You could sample different varieties from a specific region, regional varieties from one type of grape, or simply wines that have the same color. Grocery stores now carry wines from around the world, but you may want to visit a wine store if you have any specific questions. Be adventuresome and select a wine you wouldn’t normally buy. Even blind tasting can be interesting. Cover all labels and price stickers before your guests arrive and test to see who has the best palate for knowing what wine comes from where or what the most expensive ones are just from taste and aroma. Be ready for some surprises! The best finds are the $10 bottles that drink like $20 vintages.
It’s not necessary for you to buy all the wine yourself. Send out the invitations and include whatever theme there may be and encourage your guests to contribute a favorite of their own.Let your guests know what you’re planning to serve to eat so they can select wines to pair with the meal. If taste testing from a specific region you can serve dishes that country is best known for. If you are not serving a meal, offer cheese samples from the wine region with crackers and fresh fruit.
Aside from having wine glasses for each guest, you will need to offer some light food to clear the palete between wines. Rinse the glasses between varieties. Offer some paper and pens for guests to rate and comment on the wine. If you wish to have a blind taste test, be sure to cover the labels before the guests arrive.
Avoid having strongly scented flowers or candles near your tasting area. The strong fragrances will make it much harder to enjoy the bouquet of the wines. If not already well versed, learn a few wine basics before the tasting. This will help you to encourage discussion of the various aspects of each vintage: bouquet (smell), texture, color, mouth feel, acidity, and of course flavor. Savoring the wine from different aspects increases the enjoyment of the experience. A favorite book, Great Wine Made Simple by Andrea Immer, can give you the basics.
After the party you could send out an email that includes a list of the wines served and where they were purchased so that guests can buy a bottle of their own.