How to Host a Fun Wine Tasting Party
Knowing how to host a fun wine tasting party has become a popular way to taste, compare and learn about different wines in a social setting. There are basically two types of wine tastings, horizontal and vertical, horizontal being the most popular. A horizontal tasting is conducted by focusing on a wine varietal or type from a single year, but from different vineyards. Other types of tastings are general wine tastings, which are not structured and offer a variety of red and white wines, and the blind tastings, in which tasters are asked to identify wines with hidden labels.
- Collect and organize things you'll need. Make sure you have the proper glasses for the type or types of wines you'll be tasting (see reference). Depending on the number of people participating in the tasting, make sure you have enough wine to go around. The general rule of thumb is to figure six to eight glasses of wine per bottle. That is based on about eight ounces of wine per glass, but for tastings, the volume should not exceed four ounces per glass, which would yield approximately twelve glasses per bottle.
- Accompany the proper food. It's advisable to offer some sort of food accompaniment that pairs well with the wines you're tasting. Since you're hosting a wine tasting and not a dinner, don't offer any food that is heavy or requires much effort to prepare. Cheese and crackers are simple, easy and work well with most red and white wines.
- Start with a general tasting. If your guests are new to wine, a general wine tasting would be best. It offers them an opportunity to taste different types of wine and discover which varietal they prefer and learn the characteristics of each. Comparing sauvignon blanc and chardonnay would be a good example for white wines. Merlot and cabernet sauvignon would make a good red wine comparison.
- Consider a horizontal wine tasting. If your guests are somewhat wine knowledgeable, a horizontal tasting would be fun to compare a varietal from a specific year, but from different producers or vineyards. An example would be a 2006 cabernet sauvignon from about four to six vineyards. .Make sure to keep the wine region the same to make the comparisons more legitimate.
- More serious tasters might prefer a vertical tasting. A vertical tasting will compare the differences between vintages of the same wine and vineyard, rather than between wine types. An example would be vintages of merlot from 2002 to 2008.
- Make your tasting fun with a blind tasting. A blind wine tasting conceals the identity and type of wine from your guests. It gives them the opportunity to identify the type of wine they're drinking, be it red or white. Is it a merlot, cabernet or pinot noir? Is it a sauvignon blanc or a chardonnay? Though not very attractive, paper wine bags will work very well to keep the identity of the wine a secret.
- Remember, white before red. No matter what type of wine tasting you're hosting, always remember to taste white wines before red. When tasting wine, you don't want heavier red wines to overwhelm your palate and distort the taste of lighter white wines.