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How to Host a Memorable Wine Tasting: 7 Tips

Wine tasting parties can be a fun bonding experience for you and your friends. The air of a wine tasting feels elegant and sophisticated. Everybody from a beginner to a wine connoisseur will have fun sipping new wines and becoming a sommelier for the night. 

Here are seven tips for hosting a memorable wine tasting.

Assign a Theme

The first step in hosting a great wine tasting party is selecting a theme. There are numerous options for the party that your guests will love. You could try some of the following ideas:

  • International: Take a trip around the world without leaving your own house. Select bottles from Italy, France, Argentina, China and more to taste the international flavors.
  • Blindfolded tests: A fun, interactive party idea is to do blind taste tests. Blindfold your guests and have them compare two different bottles of wine. You could test their skills to detect what wine it is or see if they can tell the difference between expensive and inexpensive bottles of wine.
  • Local: Drinking locally made wine and celebrating the community is a great way to party. In the United States, all 50 states make wine, and California leads the way in production with 85% of the country’s wine. If you’re from California, buy a bottle from Napa Valley. New Yorkers can try wines made in the Finger Lakes region. Texas’ climate is optimal for making wine like cabernet sauvignon.

Prep With Necessary Supplies

When you’ve decided on a theme, determine what supplies you’ll need to take care of your guests. Make sure you have plenty of glasses because you and your guests will try different wines all evening. Assign one or two glasses per person in attendance. Before the party, fill buckets or coolers with ice to chill the wines if they need cooling. You may need palate cleansers for your guests in between wines. These foods could be bread, crackers and cheese, among others.

If you’re hosting the party outside, ensure you have enough seating in your backyard for all the guests and watch out for any bad weather that could roll in. Consider a party tent and a campfire, tiki torches or solar-powered decorative lights to make your guests feel like they’re at a festive party. Give your guests notepads and pens to write their thoughts on each wine.

Determine How Many Will Attend

An essential part of your party planning is determining how many guests will be at your wine tasting. For a warm, intimate party, invite between six and 10 guests. Welcome more people means more bottles of wine so that everybody has a chance to try them. The more the merrier, right?

A standard bottle of wine is 750 ml. One bottle will make about five glasses with five ounces each. Split that serving in half and get about 2.5 ounces each in 10 glasses. For that purpose, try keeping the number of guests at 10 or fewer. 

Choose Appropriate Foods

Half the fun of parties is eating the food served. A wine tasting party is an excellent time to try new foods and test what goes with each different kind of wine. Some foods you can provide include:

  • Fish: Serve fish with a white wine like Chardonnay. The acidity of white wine pairs well with flaky fish like tilapia, cod and halibut. 
  • Steak: For red wines, serve red meat like steak. Red wine has a high tannin content and pairs well with fatty meats.
  • Cheese: Wine and cheese is a pairing that goes back hundreds upon thousands of years. For red wines, choose an aged cheese higher in fat, such as cheddar or Parmigiano-Reggiano. For a sparkling wine, such as champagne, choose a soft cheese like brie.

Ask Guests to Take Notes

One of the most fun parts of a wine tasting is comparing notes with your guests to see their wine opinions. If your guests are beginners at wine tasting, help them take notes based on the sweetness, the alcohol content and the acidity. Those notes require minimal wine experience and are easy for someone at their first wine tasting. 

The next step could be describing the body wine’s body and tannin content. If you drink a wine with a high tannin content, it will taste bitter and dry out your tongue.

Play Fun Games

If you and your crew like to play games, there are numerous options for your party. You could play wine trivia if your guests enjoy knowledge-based games. Set up a Jeopardy! board with different categories and dollar amounts increasing as the stakes get higher. 

Quiz your partygoers and do a blind taste test to see who can best discern wines. For geography lovers, see who can get the closest to the country or state of origin during the blind test. If you believe alcohol is a great truth serum, try a truth or drink game to bring out secrets, unpopular opinions and a lot of laughs. 

Keep Everyone Hydrated

With alcohol’s presence, keeping plenty of water around will be helpful, especially if you’re hosting the party outside in the summer months. You’ll also want to ensure your guests can drive home safely because alcohol impairs your driving ability with any amount consumed. A good rule of thumb would be to drink one glass of water for every glass of wine consumed. Water is also an excellent palate cleanser in between glasses, so it has useful functions at your party.   

Presenting a Perfect Party

A wine tasting party can make you feel like you’re touring a winery in Napa, California, or Bordeaux, France. Gather a few of your closest friends for an intimate experience you’ll remember for a long time. Assign a theme, find tasty foods to pair and have fun with your friends as you taste wine from all over the country and the world. 

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