It really is quite easy. First you need to decide what kind of wine party you are going to host.
Types of Wine Tasting Parties
Vertical — A tasting with an assortment of the same wine, from the same producer and vineyard, across several vintages (the year the grapes were harvested). An example is to taste Chardonnays from 2001, 2003 and 2006 all from the same vineyard.
Horizontal — Tasting various wines from the same vintage and ideally, wines from the same region and general style. The purpose of tasting one vintage is mainly to compare the different producers and vineyards. For example, Napa Valley red wines from 2001.
Blind — This is where you hide the identities of the wine by either wrapping them or putting them in paper bags. The bottles are numbered and scored without the tasters having the benefit of label, price, producer or anything else.
Guest Choice — This is the easiest wine tasting party to coordinate. Simply tell your guests to bring whatever kind of wine they choose. If you want to narrow them down a bit, be specific in your invitations, like “Bring a bottle of your favorite red wine, $20 limit” or “Bring your favorite bottle of Chardonnay, $15 limit.”
Obviously, you can combine some of these. How about hosting a Blind-Horizontal wine tasting party?
Setting Up Your Home
If you have the room set up 3 wine tasting stations; one for red wine, one for white and a third for the dessert wines. At each wine tasting station, have on hand:
Measured pourers (serves exactly 1 oz. each time) Bottled water for rinsing mouths and glasses between tastes
A container for rinse water
Crackers for cleansing the palette between tastes
For the white and dessert wine stations, an ice bucket to keep the wine chilled
If you have separate wine tasting stations, you can increase the number of guests that you invite because everyone can spread out and start at different stations as opposed to everyone crowding around a single station. Either way, limit the number of guests to no more than 15 people. You want to easily be able to discuss the wines and having more people makes conversation difficult.
How Much Wine to Buy
If you are providing the wine yourself, keep in mind that a regular sized bottle of wine holds 750 milliliters or 25.4 ounces.
Using the Flip Top Measured Pourers, ensures that every guest receives an exact 1 ounce measure every time you pour. For $16.95, you get 3 of these nifty little gadgets and because they have a flip top, you can also store your wine with these
If you have 12 guests and use the pourers, you will only use half of each bottle (about 12 ounces) during the tasting process, leaving the rest to enjoy after tasting is over. Make sure you buy additional bottles of various wine to serve before and after the tasting.
Scoring the Wine
How wine savvy your guests are will determine if you score the wines during the tasting and if so, how you go about scoring them. Keeping things casual is usually your best bet because after all, it is a party. Typically, people do not want to be bothered with a complicated scoring process.
A good way to keep it easy is to give your guests a simple scorecard which lists the names of the wines. Ask them to force rank the wines in each category. For example, in the white category there are 5 wines to taste. Each person will score those 5 wines; 1 being their favorite and 5 being their least favorite.
At the end of the wine tasting, collect the scorecards and determine which wines are the party favorites in the wine category (reds, whites, desserts).
Lastly, to keep things simple, offer your guests meat, cheese, fruit and nut platters that complement your wine choices. This is a very important step in hosting a wine tasting party. You do not want your food choices to conflict with the wines you have chosen.
Hosting a wine tasting party at home is fun especially if you take the time to pick out some quality wines and pair those wines with good food. Your guests will appreciate the special care given when planning this type of party.
By: Sandee Lembke
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