How can I Organize a Wine Tasting Party?
A wine tasting party can be a great way to experience new flavors of wine, develop a wine palate, and spend a pleasant evening with friends. Organizing a wine tasting party well in advance ensures that it will run smoothly, and that everyone will have a good time. To host a wine tasting party, you will need a guide, an assortment of wines and drinking equipment, people to consume the wines, things to take tasting notes with, and possibly food to pair with the wines.
The guide is a crucial part of a wine tasting party. If you already know someone who is experienced and willing to facilitate, ask him or her to lead the group. If you do not know anybody who is knowledgeable about wine, consider hiring a sommelier or wine expert. If all the members of the group agree to split the cost, an expert may not be terribly expensive. Experts are also extremely informative and passionate about wine, and that will make the evening more fun.
Wine selection is an important consideration when holding a wine tasting party, and it is a good idea to come up with a theme. You may, for example, want to taste an assortment of Rieslings from all over the world to compare different growing techniques and production methods. Experimentations with pairings can also be enjoyable, or you could focus on biodynamic and organic wines. You can also go for a fun theme, like “Que Syrah Shiraz,” to get party goers into the theme. It can also be enjoyable to ask guests to bring a bottle each of their favorite red or white wine, to expose people to entirely new flavors.
The party organizer can either ask each guest to bring a bottle, or he or she can acquire all of the wines at once to ensure a proper selection. Bringing the wine expert along helps to ensure that the best wines for the tasting are chosen. Drinking equipment is also very important. An assortment of wine glasses along with a spitting bucket should be provided. Although spitting might seem rather uncouth, in a tasting which involves anything more than five wines, the guests will quickly be rendered incapable of thoughtful consideration of each taste unless they spit.
The people who consume the wines at a wine tasting party should all be of legal drinking age for the nation in which the party is being held. It helps to get a big group together, so that a wide range of opinions and wine tasting experience will be included. A big group can also help to split the cost of the wine, which can get formidable in large tastings.
Tasting notes are a crucial part of a wine tasting party. Make sure to have enough paper and pens to distribute to guests, so that they can take notes as they taste, to remember their experiences. You can also print up tasting rating cards which guests can use to talk about the wines. Tasting notes might seem silly until you taste 10 wines and cannot remember which was your favorite, so encourage guests to take notes. It can also be fun to compare notes during the tasting, and talk about the experiences that guests are having with each sip.
Finally, food to pair with the wines is a great idea. Make sure that guests eat before the tasting, because you do not want to cloud the flavors of the wines with food while you are tasting them, but you also do not want to taste wines on an empty stomach. During the tasting itself, you want to stick with neutral palate cleansers like crackers to nibble between tastings. After the tasting, however, an assortment of cheeses, chocolates, and other finger foods can be set out. A late supper of foods which pair well with the wines could also be served.
@indigomoth - That would be nice, but there's something about the idea of being able to hand pick your own wines. If you go to wineries you are bound by the types that they offer and they are, of course, only going to offer their own brand.
Plus you can get some wine tasting kits together and have fun with the different flavors.
It's supposed to be amazing to use different scents to bring out the notes in wine. The only thing is that you need to make sure you are allowing all your guests to be comfortable. Don't let any of them be wine snobs and intimidate some of the others who might not know much about wine. It's supposed to be fun, not a serious event, but people can become competitive.
@Fa5t3r - Alternatively, many vineyards also double as venues, so you could either end up at one that's decked out for your party, or just start and finish the whole thing there. They'll often have wine and cheese tasting platters available and a very lovely atmosphere.
If you are really set on the idea of a wine tasting party but you want to do something a little more adventurous, you might want to try a wine tasting tour with your friends. If you have a big group book together it will be cheaper than if you do it separately, or you could just organize to go from vineyard to vineyard under your own power.
Often they have free tastings and tours with the intention of selling the wine, so this would actually be cheaper than hosting a party yourself. Just make sure you've either got a sober driver or some other form of transport so that everyone can feel free to taste as much as they like.
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