There’s no better place than home to gather your wine-loving friends. Here are some tips and suggestions for successfully hosting a casual wine tasting event in your home.
- Wine glasses: Make sure you have enough wine glasses for each guest and consider having a few extra in case of breakage (accidents happen). It's best to use glasses that are specific to the wine (larger glasses for red wines, smaller for white, etc.), as they are designed to enhance the aroma and flavor of the wine.
- Spittoons or dump buckets: These are containers where guests can pour out the wine they don't want to finish or spit out if they're doing a professional wine tasting.
- Water and crackers: Provide guests with water and crackers to cleanse their palates between tastings.
- Notepads and pens: Guests may want to take notes on the wines they're tasting.
- Variety: Choose a variety of wines to taste, such as red, white, rose, and sparkling. You can also choose wines from different regions or countries to add variety.
- Quality: Choose wines that are of good quality, but not too expensive. You don't want to break the bank, but you also don't want to serve wines that are too cheap or of poor quality.
- Amount: Plan for about half a bottle of wine per person, or less if you're serving many wines.
- Buy Local: Consider buying your wines from a local wine shop as 1. It’s always good to support the local businesses in your community versus large, big-box discount stores. 2. Smaller stores have already carefully curated their inventory and are better able to provide recommendations that prioritize quality over name brands.
- Ambiance: Choose a location that is comfortable and conducive to wine tasting in your home (the room with newly installed white carpet may be unwise). Make sure the lighting is appropriate and that there is enough space for guests to move around and mingle. Put together a good music playlist that evokes the mood you want to set.
- Comfort: Make sure your guests are comfortable by providing seating and keeping the temperature at a comfortable level.
- If choosing an outdoor spot at your place, it is even more important to plan lighting, seating, temperature, plenty of surfaces to set down glasses and plates, an obvious trash receptacle, etc. If you intend for guests to spend most of their time outdoors, make sure they are aware of the location of the bathroom.
Food and activities:
- Platters & Charcuterie: A charcuterie board is a great way to provide guests with snacks that pair well with wine for a laid-back tasting. Include a variety of meats, cheeses, nuts, and fruits. The goal is not to mimic a formal dinner party - a pre-arranged platter or two ordered from a decent grocery store is also fine to add. Be mindful of dietary issues and keep some items (vegan options) separate.
- Wine trivia: Provide guests with wine trivia questions to test their knowledge of wine. There are several fun trivia games you can buy or download. Up the stakes by having a prize for the winner (a gift card to local wine shop, perhaps?).
- Blind tastings: Cover the labels of the wines and have guests try to guess what type of wine they're tasting.
Overall, a wine tasting party can be a fun and educational experience for guests. By choosing a variety of quality wines, stocking up on the right supplies, creating a comfortable atmosphere, and providing good snacks, you can ensure your guests have a memorable time.