Hosting a wine tasting party is an excellent way to celebrate good news or to simply catch up with good friends especially around the holidays. Who doesn't love fine wine and good conversation? Below are some ideas for taking your party to the next level:
Once you've finalized the guest list, it's time to make your wine selections. Have guests sample no more than five different varieties of wine (more than five will overwhelm the palette). An average bottle of wine is 25.4 ounces (750 ml) and a tasting pour is around 2 ounces, so one bottle will allow sampling for 12 guests. It's okay to serve both reds and whites as long as you serve them in order from lightest to darkest, since darker wines tend to be heavier.
To give your wine tasting party a theme, select vintages from a specific region (Tuscany, Napa or your own state). Get suggestions from your local wine shop or check out this neat Smartphone app that helps you find the best wine in your local stores. For laughs, throw a cheap wine into the mix to see how guests respond :)
Provide each guest with one wine glass for the duration of the tasting. It's important not to rinse the glass between servings to avoid diluting the wine. As a general rule, put reds in the refrigerator 15 to 30 minutes before guests arrive. Take whites and rosés out of the refrigerator a few minutes before pouring.
If you really want to liven things up, a blind tasting makes for an interesting event. For a blind tasting, you'll need numbered bottle covers or labels to hide the wine's identity. Using score cards similar to that below, ask guests to score the wines on:
- Appearance -- clarity, depth of color, liveliness (vivid or dull)
- Aroma (bouquet)-- fruity, nutty, earthy, floral, etc. Swirl the glass to aerate the wine then take a big sniff. If the wine is inviting based upon its bouquet, the pleasure of its taste will only be enhanced.
- Body -- light, medium or full-bodied. The body of the wine refers to its weight in your mouth.
- Taste -- sweet, acidic, or bitter (tannin). Take a medium sip and swirl the wine around in your mouth. Carefully drawing in air while sipping aerates the wine as well.
- Finish -- finish is the impression that a wine leaves in your mouth after you have swallowed it. The longer the finish, the better the quality of the wine. A great wine, as opposed to a good wine, always has a pronounced, lingering, well balanced finish.
What food to serve? Crackers, sliced bread, fruit, olives, nuts and cheeses that pair well with your selected wines. Taking an event to the next level is all about presentation. Serve olives in a dish that not only holds olives but adds a bit of style to the spread. Label the cheeses using place cards in wine-themed place card holders. Use a cork handled spreader for serving cheeses.
Presenting guests with wine party favors will show that you're a most gracious host/hostess and just might inspire guests to have a wine tasting party of their own. A wine bottle stopper or corkscrew is an ideal favor for the wine afficianado.
Wine tasting score card courtesy of Centsational Girl
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