In honor of National Drink Wine Day 2022 (February 18), we’re telling you how to host a wine tasting party at home! Starting your own wine tasting group and sharing the cost is a great way to hone your wine expertise and save money.
Get started with this list of hosting tips, and if you feel overwhelmed, book with us and let our TIPS-certified bartenders do the behind-the-scenes work.
Choose a theme
It’s best to serve 8-10 wines at a single tasting. Narrowing down what you’ll serve may seem daunting – did you know over 25,000 varieties of wine are available for purchase in the U.S.? Selecting a theme can help you decide what to buy. Here are some theme ideas:
- Wine from a specific region
- Have each guest bring a bottle from home
- Chocolate and wine pairings, or
- Cheese and wine pairings
- The same wine, different vintages
- Wines at a certain price point
- Similar wines, for example a variety of dry reds or sparkling wines
Have the right supplies
Besides the wine, there are a number of other items you’ll want to have on hand to host a wine tasting party at home. This includes:
- At least one clear wine glass per guest (ideally two, to allow side-by-side taste comparison)
- Palate-cleansing snacks, such as water crackers or bread
- Paper and pens for taking notes
- Good lighting – which, along with clear glassware and a white background, allows guests to compare the color of different wines
- Spit bucket for each guest – for those who want to taste without getting tipsy
Keep the group small
An ideal group size for a wine tasting party is 6-10 guests. If you exceed 10 guests, you may need to purchase more than one bottle of each wine. Fewer guests allows for better discussion and naturally limits what the host and each participant will spend.
Prepare your guests
If each guest is bringing a bottle of wine, make sure it’s cooled to the ideal temperature: 40-45 degrees for sparkling wines; 40-50 degrees for whites; and 55-65 degrees for reds. Ensure your guests won’t be arriving on an empty stomach, which could lead them to become intoxicated quickly.
Those who are new to wine tasting may need a rundown on what to expect. Tasting typically includes these four steps, though swirling and smelling are sometimes divided into two steps:
- Observation – noting a wine’s color, viscosity (how thin or thick the wine is), and opacity (how easy it is to see through)
- Smell – smelling beforehand makes it easier to identify flavors during tasting; first, swirl the glass by placing it flat on the table and imagine you’re drawing a circle with the base to aerate the wine, then take a deep whiff
- Taste – take a sip and swish around your mouth, making sure the wine coats your tongue; smell again after the first sip, then take a second sip if desired. Choose to swallow the wine, or spit it out if it doesn’t suit your taste or you’d prefer to stay sober.
- Take notes – record your observations from the three previous steps; if doing a blind tasting, make guesses as to the type and style of wine
Have a discussion
After each guest has tasted each wine, compare notes about the look, smell, and taste of each sample. At a blind tasting – an excellent way to learn about wine – you, the host, will then reveal which bottle corresponds with which sample.
When the tasting is complete, your guests are likely to be hungry. Consider serving a light meal or small bites. This is a great time to experiment with food and wine pairings and the effect various foods have on the taste of wine. Put the remaining wine on the table for guests to experiment with, or so they can enjoy more of their favorites.