Looking for a unique way to entertain at home this holiday season? Gather a few wine-loving friends and bring the winery home by hosting a wine tasting. An in-home wine tasting is a great way to try some new wines, improve your palate, and gain some knowledge about tasting and pairing.
Here are a few ideas to help you plan a fun and easy tasting.
1.There are two considerations when planning your guest list, your space and who to invite. An ideal setting is for guests to have ample room to be seated and within easy reach of the food selections. For smaller, more intimate gatherings of 6-8 people, the living room is a good option. You can use a lazy susan on the coffee table for food. For larger groups, of up to 12-15 friends, the dining room table is perfect and food items can go along the center. The guest list should include friends that drink and enjoy wine and people who are interested in trying new things. They will truly appreciate and enjoy the experience!
2. When planning your wine selections, 6 wines are ideal with an even mix of whites and reds. You may want to enlist the help of a wine steward at your local wine store or your grocery store. They can provide you wine recommendations as well as a little information about the wines that can be useful during the tasting.
3. A fun way to kick off your party is to offer a sparkling wine as guests arrive. Set-up a sparkling wine bar, with a selection of grapes, strawberries, and raspberries, so guests can add a few to their glass. Guests can enjoy a glass as they mix and mingle while waiting for everyone to arrive.
4. As far as wine quantities the ideal number is 2 bottles of each wine on hand. The recommendation is to do a 2 oz. pour of each wine being tasted so you will get approximately 12 servings per bottle. Having an extra bottle will give your guests the opportunity to “revisit” a wine at the end of the tasting with a full pour.
5. To ensure the ultimate tasting experience plan to serve simple food pairings along with the wines. A selection of cheeses, crackers, fruit, and chocolate will showcase the wines without overpowering or conflicting with them. Here is a sample list:
- Grapes and/or strawberries
- One mild cheese – such as a Brie or Havarti
- One medium cheese – such as Gouda or Cheddar
- One strong cheese – such as Blue, Gorgonzola, or Stilton
- Chocolate (preferably dark)
- Crackers and plain French bread slices
6. Along with the wine and food selections, you'll need to have a few accessories on hand. Here is a list of recommended items:
- 1 stemmed wine glass per guest
- A pitcher of water
- An empty vase or pitcher for people to pour their wine out if they don’t like it
- Cheeseboard, knives, napkins, and small plates
7. The set-up for your wine tasting is simple. Ensure the temperature of the wines are correct for serving. To learn more about proper temperature for storing and serving wines, check out our blog. About 15 minutes before the tasting open the red wines so they have time to breath.
8. When it comes time to taste, the wines should be served in order of lightest white wine to the biggest red. The recommendation for tasting is to use a pour size of approximately 2 ounces per glass. As you go through the wines suggest guests taste some of the food selections to see how they pair with each wine. Typically, the fruit and milder cheeses work best with the whites while the medium and stronger cheeses work with the reds. For some fun facts on wine tasting techniques check out our blog.
At the end of the tasting offer guests a glass of one of their favorite wines and keep the party going!
Want to learn more about proper wine storage? Connect with one of our wine cellar experts or call us at 866-973-1100 for assistance.
About the author
Megan Hoffman is a marketing professional with a focus on brand development and growth in the wine industry. She is a wine enthusiast with expertise in wine marketing, wine education, and wine country travel. Visit her LinkedIn profile here.