Have A Wine-Tasting Party
Wine-tasting parties are like the weather: Everyone talks about them but no one holds one.
Personally I think most dry wines taste like icky liquid dust. I can't tell the difference between a 1951 Cuvee Froglisienne and the cheap rot gut buck a liter table wine you get in tetra paks. But even people who really enjoy wine don't host wine-tasting parties because they consider them too snobby or daunting. For most of us, "wine tasting" means a group of 12 eno-geeks sharing a bottle of 6 Puttonyos Tokay or some wine guru slogging through a couple hundred bottles before piecing together his next Hub.
You don't need to go far in your channel twirling to see some sommelier or another comment about how this 1938 Maison De Charlatans is the perfect match for sauteed great white shark tongue; or that 1947 Chateau Du Vomitte is the natural accompaniment to Thai Lemon Grass Curried water buffalo scrotum especially when served with a side of well feathered balut. I must be the ultimate eno-peon. What I like to drink with my meals is lots of ice water, or ice tea, or diet cream soda that's been left on the counter open overnight to get flat and to room temperature. If you don't believe me on the last one try it yourself. It turns into a delicate nectar and best of all you can buy several cases for the price of one bottle of overpriced over-hyped over-dry panther pee at the winery.
A wine-tasting party can trump even a killer dinner party as a way to entertain. You get to have your friends over. You get to simultaneously drink and learn. You get to cook less food. It might not be all that bad, after all!
In fact, a wine tasting isn't like a dinner party at all. Wine tastings call for simple, unadorned food, the kinds of eats the English call a "foil" for wine. At a wine-tasting gathering, all eyes are on Il Vino. Food should be background noise.
It's even better to eat after a formal wine tasting. That translates into a buffet of already-ready foods all prepared or purchased ahead of time. As for me, I'd eat the food and forget the wine, but I have already warned you that I'm a wine proletarian.
The true key to a wine tasting is to put together an environment where you and your friends can go to school and play hooky at the same time.
One bottle of wine is enough for four to five (or even more) people. Because everyone will be sampling a number of wines (six to eight works best), you need no more than a couple ounces of wine per glass.
Use rugged, tulip-shaped glasses, at least four per person. A wine tasting works best when tasters can compare and contrast two or three wines side by side. Renting these is inexpensive and you also save time on clean up. The reason for the tulip shape is for ease of swirling (in order to capture the aroma, a key component of any wine).
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