How to Host a Wine Tasting Party
Showers, Girls Night, House Warming; Do a wine tasting when you want a Casual Night In!
A wine tasting party is a great excuse to try some new wines, host a casually elegant evening with a bit of entertainment. It can be a great social mixer for house-warmings, wedding showers, birthdays, fundraisers, girls night out, bachelorette parties or just a good way to mix several couples in a spirit of light-hearted fun and competition all in the name of the "fruit of the vine." Don't worry, no one needs to be an oenophile (wine lover) to enjoy this type of get together.
My husband is an artist, I'm a designer and we both love wine so we put together this wine lover lens to make it easy for you to throw a smashing wine-tasting that your guests will look forward to year after year! Cheers! Find the wine lovers art, stationary & gifts we created at www.zazzle.com/livinglarge.
Arrange a Blind Wine Tasting!
For An Element of Competition
No, I don't mean to suggest you should drink yourself blind...( but if you're so inclined, better make sure you host this party at home); what I mean is to have your guests taste the wines and rate them WITHOUT being able to see the label or price.
Unlike many wine tastings which are hosted by "experts" who proceed through the sample tastings with a explanation of the wine's qualities and are more of a lecture style for educational purposes, what we like to do at our wine tastings is to make it an interactive competition.
Since many of our guests like the challenge of discovering new wines we involve them by asking each guest or couple to bring a wine "entry" in a predetermined class (say Cabernets under $20) and then to taste, judge and rate the wines "blind." To take it to the next notch of competitiveness we then we tally the overall results to see which wines "win."
Prizes are then awarded and hopefully everyone goes home with some new wine recommendations to add to their wine "Cellars" shopping list.
How to Host a Wine Tasting Party at Home
How many Make for a Good WineTasting Crowd? Eight-Ten people (4-5 couples) is about right size crowd.
- One bottle of wine can easily be poured in small tasting amounts for 10 people.
- Four to six wines (each couple brings one) for comparison and rating is a reasonable number.
Send out the Wine Party Invitations: Ask each couple to bring one or two different wines below a chosen price point in a certain category, such as: red, white. Or, if you prefer to be more specific you could suggest a varietal (cabernet, chardonnay etc)
- To make it even more challenging and to even the playing field provide a price range such as a $12 and under limit
What to put in the Wine Tasting Party Invitations:
Set the Oenophile's Stage
Find some cute invitations like the ones listed here below. Make sure they have room to add some directions about the wine-tasting.
- You'll want to ask each couple to bring one or two different wines below a chosen price point in a certain category, such as: red, white, or, if you prefer to be more specific you could suggest a varietal (cabernet, chardonnay, reisling etc).
- To make it even more challenging and to even the playing field provide a price range such as a" $12 and under" price per bottle.
Asking your guests to RSVP will make it easier to plan and set up the party.
Here are some colorful and artistic invitations I've designed for this type of event. Note that you can even purchase the Wine Scorecards to match!
Setting up the Wine Tasting in your Home
Tables, Dump Buckets, Snacks, Scorecards
Have a central table for the wines
- Make sure to provide a "dump bucket" or bowl for those that don't want to consume their entire tasting sample
- cheese and crackers or some light savory appetizers are great complements to wine and help to clear the palate between tastings.
- put out a pitcher of water and some extra glasses
Disguise the Bottles
- As the guests arrive, have them open & bag their wines so the label and price is hidden.
- Assign each different wine a number and place all the wines on the table for sampling
Hand out the Scorecards
Give each guest a scorecard, pen and a glass with a wine charm. Ask them to put their name on the scorecard and to use it to rate the wines by their assigned numbers. Ask them to make useful notes about the taste or what they liked or didn't like. The cards will be used to tally the results and then given back to the guests to take home so they can mark down and remember the names of their favorites for future purchases.
Shortcut Wine Tasting Kits - Ready, Set, Taste!
Let's Get to Sampling the Wines
Bring on the Wine
How to Pour the Taste
For each guest's tasting pour about 2 oz of wine in each glass and have them rate the wine on their scorecard. Encourage them to use descriptive words to help differentiate the results.
Score the Wines
Collect the scoring sheet and tally the scores. Return scoring sheets to each individual
Announce the results
Reveal the wines and their prices. If you like an element of competition, award a prize to the person who brought the highest rated wine.
Enjoy the rest of the wines!
Provide a Dump Bucket - And a Pitcher of Water!
At wine tastings its typical to provide a dump bucket for peiople to dump wines they don't want to drink or to rinse out their glasses between tastings. Here is a sample.
An Easy Wine Rating System
No need to be an Expert Oneophile
Some people are worried about being able to judge a wine as a novice. This system makes it easy. Its just about what you love. Go with your gut... or your "palate" as they say.
Make a sign to post at your event so your guests can easily see the system:
POINTS WHAT IT MEANS
5pts I love this wine!
4pts I really like this wine.
3pts This wine is good.
2pts This wine is not that good.
1pts Dump Bucket! I don't like this wine.
Look - Best wines are clear and brilliant
Smell - Best wines have intense aromas
Taste - Best wines have complex structure and flavors
Swallow - Best wines have a flavorful aftertaste that lingers