There are many different styles of wine tasting parties you can host in your home. The main goals of a wine tasting are to learn about the wine, where it came from, discover your own palate, compare notes with friends and have fun.
What You’ll Need:
- 2 wine glasses per guest (one for white, one for red)
- Large pitcher of water and glasses
- Ice buckets (“dump buckets”)
- Cards with winery descriptions and winemaker notes
- Pen and paper
- Brown paper bag covers for wine bottles (and maybe an elastic to keep the bag on the bottle)
Generally, your tasting should consist of 3-5 wines. If you are serving full-bodied reds open the bottles about an hour before you the sampling to allow it to breathe.
Here are a few basic methods for comparing wines to one another:
- Vertical(same producer, different vintages)
- Horizontal(different producers, same vintage)
- Single Varietal(from many different producers and regions)
- Old World vs. New World(same varietal from Europe tasted against U.S., South America, Australia or South Africa)
Most tastings involve random wines. For a formal, more traditional approach to wine tasting, follow the five S’s:
With this approach, you’ll have a glass for each sample of wine. Smell each wine and make notes. Taste each wine and make notes. Each person reports on each wine. Then unveil the bottle.
Guests may be unfamiliar or intimidated by “technical” tasting terms, so encourage them to describe wine in their own terms. Call us and we’ll send you a free “aroma wheel” with a list of basic descriptors for popular wines.
For a more light-hearted approach to your tasting, begin with an educational ice breaker. Ask your guests to take a jelly bean from a small bowl you provide with an assortment of colors (without looking!) Have them plug their nose first and place the jelly bean in their mouth. Ask them to describe the flavor. Then tell them to unplug their nose and describe the flavor.
This game plays up the connection between the olfactory nerve and the brain. Most people will respond, “Sweet, but unidentifiable” for a flavor description with their nose plugged. Only once their nose is unplugged are they able to describe the actual flavor (i.e. lemon, lime, etc.) After tasting the candy, be sure to cleanse the palate before sampling the wine.
Have each guest to draw a card from a basket with questions like, “If this wine were an animal, which would it be and why?” Taste each wine and comment back to the group. Award prizes for the most creative answers: wine charms, coasters, or a bottle of wine.