A wine tasting party is a fantastic social gathering that can involve family members and friends you may not have seen for a while or even new acquaintances you’d like to know better in an environment that is fairly relaxed. In addition to being a sociable gathering, people can also share their love, experiences and knowledge of wine, while other less-experienced participants can even learn more from the more experienced participants. Unfortunately, what discourages a lot of people from hosting a successful wine tasting party is that they think they need to have some sort of professional knowledge about being a wine taster (or a “sommelier” to be more specific). This is far from the case. Even though you don’t need to know a lot about wine, throwing a successful wine tasting party involves more than just getting a bunch of bottles of wine and drinking them. Here are a few ideas to help make the night not only educational, but also a LOT of fun!
Like all successful planning, you need to know what sort of wine tasting party you want to have. You can have a horizontal or vertical tasting party (where different vintages from the same vineyard are tasted, or the same vintages from different winemakers are tasted and compared), or simply a wine and cheese paring party. The main factor here is the size of your budget and the number of people you expect to come. If you are just starting out, think about a simple wine and cheese pairing party, as they are a lot less serious than a straight-out wine tasting party. As an idea for a theme, you may want to consider only tasting white or red wines on the evening.
The next step is to send out the invitations. It is best to send them out at least two weeks in advance. Always ask your guests to RSVP with plenty of time to determine how many bottles of wine you’ll need on the night. This way, you’ll avoid the embarrassment that comes from buying too much or too little wine!
Wine Tasting Games
If you want to have your party more light-hearted than a serious wine tasting, there has to be at least one game involved. A good one to try involves either buying or making your own tasting cards where you can record the kind of wine, the vineyard and its vintage. Also make sure that people can also record the wine’s appearance, aroma and taste. A final score will also need to be recorded as well.
If you have less-experienced tasters, it’s probably best if they just record which ones they liked and which ones they didn’t like. It is a great opportunity for them to learn more about wine tasting from the more experienced tasters. It will be a great experience for them and they would be able to participate more readily at your next party. However, if your party has mostly experienced tasters, a more fun game to try is a blind tasting. This can take two forms. You can either disguise the bottles by placing them in brown paper bags or simply pouring the wine first into smaller glasses without revealing the label. You still hand out the scoring cards though.
Along those lines, you can also make a game where the host describes a wine and the tasters have to guess the wine based on the description alone. Prizes can be awarded for those who guess the most wines. Prizes could be an inexpensive bottle of wine or maybe something like a corkscrew as a joke gift.
What would a party be without decorations? However, most wine tasting parties don’t really require large number of elaborate decorations, other than a nice table cloth and maybe a few candles to enhance the environment. If you want to have a theme for the wine tasting party, you can add decorations that are appropriate (ie a 60’s theme, medieval theme, Hawaiian theme, etc)
Equipment for a Wine Tasting Party
Here’s a list of the items you will likely need for a successful and fun wine tasting party:
· 5 to 7 bottles of wine (according to whatever theme of party you are having)
· A bucket for guests into which guests can spit their wine
· Glasses – preferably smaller ones
· A couple loaves of Italian or French breads
· pitchers of water for guests to cleanse their palettes between tastings
· Grading cards
· Pens or pencils
Throwing a wine tasting party can be very successful if you have a few fun wine tasting ideas to entertain the guests. The number of ideas is way too large to cover here. The thing to remember is to simply use your imagination!