A home wine tasting party can be a fun way to learn about and share interesting wine varieties with friends and family. A wine tasting can focus on a certain category of wines or can be more broad-based. You can also make it a potluck wine tasting, so they can share their favorite wine with others. Here are a few tips for making your wine tasting party a success:
1 – Choose the Wines You Want to Compare
Consider purchasing wines from a single category or vintage, such as an array of Pinot Noirs from a single year. You will then be able to see how each vineyard puts its own stamp on the particular wine. Or you can concentrate on a single variety, such as Chardonnays from various countries. You will need one to two ounces of each type of wine for each guest. Wine groups should be tasted in groups of three or four.
2 – Cover Labels To Provide a “Blind” Tasting
Use aluminum foil to cover the bottle’s label, rolling the foil around each bottle and flattening the bottom. Then, use a felt marker to number each bottle for reference. Chill white wines for three to four hours before guests arrive. Red wines can be served at room temperature. Sparkling wines should be refrigerated overnight.
3 – Set Up Your Table To Highlight the Wine
Spread out a plain white tablecloth so your guests will have a blank background to judge the visual qualities of the wines. Have a number of wine glasses on hand for your guests. About four glasses for each taster will be enough. Glasses that are narrower at the rim that in the middle of the bowl will allow guests to swirl the wine more easily. Have a spit bucket on hand in case guests prefer not to swallow each wine.
4 – Provide Neutral Snacks To Clear the Palate
Put out thin slices of French bread or neutral crackers to allow your guests to clear their palates between tastings. Lightly salted mozzarella is another good choice to remove the taste of strong flavors. Ice water can also be served as a refreshing palate cleanser.
5 – Use Standard Tasting Techniques
Introduce and pour the first wine, encouraging your guests to notice the color, clarity and density of the wine. Have them swirl it in the glass to release the aroma. Have your guests sip the wine and swish it around their mouths to appreciate the subtle flavors. Encourage guests to take notes on their impressions of the wine, its acidity or sweetness, tannin quality, body and texture.
After you have done your tasting of a number of different wines, discuss your findings with your guests. You can then vote for the favorite, revealing the label after all votes are counted. Experts you then have the wines with a meal to determine if the taste is changed by food. This measure often provokes more discussion and changes of opinion about the wines.