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How to host a wine tasting party


With a few simple basics, you can learn to swirl, sniff, and sip with the best of them.

  • Choose the Wine


Have guests sample five different types of wine (more will overwhelm the palette). It’s fine to mix reds and whites; just serve them in order from lightest to darkest, since darker wines tend to be heavier. For six guests, have two bottles of each: one for tasting (pour small amounts of about one ounce) and one for drinking afterward.

For an easy theme, select vintages that all hail from a specific region: Tuscany, Napa, or your own state. Get local suggestions from your neighborhood wine shop or take a hint from one of these sites: Zachys Wine Online (, Binny’s (, or Appellation America (

Provide one Bordeaux glass (shown in photo) per person for the duration of the tasting. (Don’t rinse the glass between servings, since even a drop or two of water can dilute the wine.)

As a general rule, 15 to 30 minutes before guests arrive, put reds in the refrigerator. Take whites and rosés out a few minutes before pouring.


  • Make Coasters

If you want to go all out, make clever invitation-coasters with a map of your featured wine region. Download and print out a map from National Geographic’s Map Machine, Trim, then use a spray adhesive to glue it to a piece of four-inch square card stock.


  • Prepare Snacks


New Potatoes and Pesto (shown)


  • Breadsticks
  • A charcuterie platter
  • Cheese straws
  • Dried fruit
  • Mixed olives
  • Pistachios
  • Chocolate that contains at least 60 percent cacao, which makes the chocolate richer


  • Play Music

Download these songs to get the party started:

  • “High and Dry,” Jamie Cullum
  • “I Heard It through the Grapevine,” Marvin Gaye
  • “I’m Not Drinking Any #@%! $ Merlot!” from the Sideways soundtrack, composed by Rolfe Kent
  • “In the Waiting Line,” Zero 7
  • “Into the Mystic,” Van Morrison
  • “Lovely Day,” Bill Withers
  • “Peel Me a Grape,” Diana Krall
  • “Rebel Rebel,” Seu Jorge
  • “Sophisticated Lady,” Thelonious Monk
  • “That’s How Strong My Love Is,” Otis Redding

Head to, where you can purchase these songs from the Real Simple-generated iMix.


  • Show Your Guests How to Taste

Step 1:

Look at it. Is the wine bright (light-bodied) or dark (full-bodied)? Clear (drink up) or cloudy (toss it)?

Step 2:

Swirl your glass gently to release the wine’s aromas. Then put your nose deep into the glass (don’t be shy). Is it fruity? Floral? Herbal? Earthy?

Step 3:

Hold the wine in your mouth while slowly inhaling air (you’ll make a slurping sound). It may feel odd, but the process aerates the wine and opens up your olfactory sense to enhance its flavors.


By Yolanda Wikiel

***Grabbed from: