How to host a successful wine tasting party

One of the most delightful ways to discover new wine styles and varieties is to throw a wine tasting party. Who can turn you down with an invite to one of those? Rather than just drinking wine, you’ll be TASTING wine, which adds an element of education to the entire affair.

First up, pick a theme. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Around the world: Each wine represents a different wine growing region. So if you were serving 6 wines you could go with Italy, Spain, US, France, South America and Australia. Get more specific and make them all red, or if you really wanted to geek-out, pick a specific varietal, like tasting Cabernet Sauvignon from six different regions. Either way, you’ll be discovering a sense of place for each wine.
  • Off the beaten path: You probably  have no idea how many actual grape varieties are out there, but trust me, there are a lot more than you think. Get a little geeky and start discovering some wines you’ve never tried, like Moschofilero from Greece, Bonarda from Argentina, Godello from Spain and Nero d’Avola from Italy. I promise you can come up with enough to keep everyone happy.
  • Value grab-bag: Here’s where you get your guests involved. Everyone brings a wine under $20 (you can be specific if you like – everyone brings a California wine under $20, a Chardonnay under $20, etc), wrapped in a paper bag. Once there, each paper bag is given a number and people go through the line up, tasting wines and taking notes. You vote, you pick a favorite, you reveal! Always fun to see which wine comes out on top.

Second, you choose if the party is hosted or includes guest participation. As mentioned in the Value grab-bag theme, you can have each guest bring something. For Around the World you assign a country, for off the beaten path you assign a grape variety, etc. This helps cut your costs as well.

Third, stock up on supplies.

  • Print out some tasting notes & provide pens
  • Make sure you have enough glassware and tags to mark the glassware
  • Make sure you have spit/dump buckets! If you are “tasting” wine, you will not want to down a glass for each wine you taste. So provide large pitchers or other items for people to discard extra wine. It’s not a waste if it’s helping to keep people from getting too impaired to function.

Finally, if you need help, get a Wine Tasting Party Kit. Those can help guide you through it all!

Good friends and good wine is always fun, but throwing that tasting party can spice up that holiday party. Enjoy!