Wine is a concept that many people don’t understand well. Wine isn’t just something you drink; it’s sensory immersion. The color, texture, and aroma of the wine are just as vital as the taste. A wine tasting at home introduces you and the people in your life to an experience they might otherwise miss. It also imparts knowledge because you need to understand how different wines affect the palate to be a wine connoisseur. How do you throw a proper wine tasting party?
When it comes to a wine tasting at home, having the right glasses can make or break a party. Ideally, every person at the party will have their own set of glasses. If your budget doesn’t allow you to go out and buy that many glasses, you do have a few options:
- You could ask each person to bring their own glasses. This approach has many benefits. The goal of wine tasting is to get more familiar with specific wines. Having their own glasses encourages your guests to continue to enjoy wines at home. It also allows true wine connoisseurs to showcase their personal glasses.
- The other option is to rent glassware. The cost of renting will vary depending on your location, availability, and glassware quality. An average price might be $1–$3 an hour. But renting also means you don’t have glassware to wash, so you get some return on that investment.
You can also choose to go with plastic. People have mixed feelings about pairing wine with plastic or acrylic glasses, but it is cheaper than glass stemware.
For the party, other accessories you’ll want include spit buckets, pens, and paper for each guest. If possible, offer a printout of the different wines’ characteristics.
Choose a Theme
Choosing a theme allows you to narrow down your wine selection. It can be fun, too. Some themes to consider include:
- By country – Who has the best wines? France? Italy? The United States? Or how about by state? Nebraska, California, Washington, New York — there is plenty to choose from if your theme is location, location, location.
- Style – Full-bodied red, light-bodied white, dessert, sparkling — Choose your favorite and then offer different varieties of it.
- BYOB – If your friends and family are wine snobs, then let them bring one or two of their personal favorites.
Remember that choosing your theme is about pairing down the wine selection.
Make It Intimate
A wine tasting at home allows you to sit and discuss each wine and its different pairings. That is hard to do in a large group. Choose the correct number of guests to encourage conversation. Also, the more people you have, the more wine you need.
If you want to taste genuinely quality wines, you will spend a little money. If you have a sizeable group, you might sacrifice quality to stay within budget.
Have a Beginner’s Class
If the people attending your party are new to wine, then teach them the right way to appreciate it. Show them the fun of swirling, smelling, handling the cork, and then sipping the wine. What is the spit bucket for, and why is it important? Introduce them to critical wine terminology.
Also, go into what they should look for when examining a bottle of wine before buying it. What should they know about the position of the cork and the color of the wine? What about screw tops? What is the difference?
Serve Palate Cleansers
Cleaning your palate between tastes is essential for getting the full flavor of the wine you’re drinking. Water or bland crackers are ideal for cleansing between tastings.
Although it seems like wine and cheese are a natural pairing — and they are — cheese does not cleanse the palate. If you need to serve snacks during the tasting part of the party, look for foods that pair well with each type of wine and go for balance. Don’t serve more wine than food or the other way around. Offer one or two snacks with each wine.
Talk About the Wines
It’s not enough to offer a taste of the wine. You need to understand its characteristics. What are the flavor notes in each wine? Where are the grapes from, and what is the age?
Also, talk about the elephant in the room — prices. There are plenty of affordable, quality wines out there. If you are serving expensive wine, let them know. If there is a comparable, more budget-friendly option, then have that information ready as well.
Finally, don’t lose sight of the fun factor. Wine tasting is serious business, but, ultimately, the point of a wine tasting at home is to get together with people and enjoy each other’s company.
About Sweet Oaks Wine
The Sweet Oaks vineyards, located in the heart of Temecula Valley Wine Country, have a great growing climate and rich soil, which wine farmers regard as necessary to produce healthy grapes. These plants, in turn, yield grapes that, in the hands of a skilled winemaker, transform into excellent wines.
Check out the Sweet Oaks shop if you are stuck on what to serve for a wine tasting at home. You can also find lots of helpful information about wine and ways to pair it properly.