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Wine Tasting Party at Home Guide

  • There are different types of wine tastings, Vertical Tasting, Horizontal Tasting, Old World vs New World Wine Tasting or a blind tasting to test your knowledge!
  • Be prepared; the appropriate glassware is essential, and the temperature of the wine, so make sure Red wine is at room temperature and white wine is in the cooler chilling.
  • Take notes! It's essential to note down the taste, look and smell (aroma) of the wine so you can compare at the end.

A wine experience is all about the tasting. Therefore we felt it was only fitting to provide you with a few helpful tips on hosting your own wine tasting party. This can take place from the comfort of your home, a cosy corner in your local pub or virtually online with friends!

A tasting party is a perfect way to explore new varieties of wine, from the French Loire Valley to the depths of South Africa, be prepared to take around the world trip sampling exquisite wines, maybe sampling something you wouldn't usually choose.

What will I need for my wine tasting party?

We have compiled a list of various items you will need for the ultimate wine tasting party:

  • Guest invitations – send out your invitations in good time so your guests can prepare themselves and bring any food/snacks along to complement the wines. Let your guests know if you are hosting a themed tasting party to contribute to the decorations, food etc.
  • Design your own tasting cards or download Wineware’s ‘Wine Tasting Notes’ (PDF or Excel version).
  • Prepare any appetisers/snacks to accompany and complement your wines.
  • A jug of water for cleansing your palate.
  • You may need wine accessories throughout the tasting, such as a wine cooler or corkscrew.
  • A wine spittoon (optional).
  • Glasses for the wine.
  • Bottles of wine (please see the types of tastings listed below).

What type of wine tasting should I host?

Vertical Wine Tasting

Let’s get one thing straight, excuse the pun; this tasting involves sampling wines based on vintage years. This means you can choose one wine variety from the same producer but several vintages. It can be a great way to experience how unique every year is to the world of wine.

You will begin to notice the subtle/dramatic wine changes from year to year; for instance, wines may taste different depending on the weather from that year. This type of tasting involves a great deal of observation, so it may help to use Wineware's 'Wine Tasting Notes' to jot down any details. Vertical wine tastings can provide the basis for great conservations as you discuss the various factors which may have affected one bottle of wine but not the following years. How was the weather that year? Had the grapes been exposed to more bad weather in 1996 compared to 1997?

Horizontal Wine Tasting

Horizontal wine tasting focuses on a wines variety from a single year but different producers. You can choose your bottles of wine from the same region or worldwide; it is entirely up to you! You will notice the differences between a bottle of wine from 4 to 6 wineries, and this will be a great talking point for your tasting party.

Old World vs New World Wine Tasting

This can be an enjoyable tasting! You try a grape variety grown in the ‘Old World’ (i.e. Europe- France, Italy, Austria, Germany, Spain and Portugal), and the same variety that's grown in the ‘New World’ (i.e. North American, South America, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa). Write down the similarities and differences and find out which ‘world’ you prefer!

What should I use to record my wine tasting observations?

We have produced a ‘Wine Tasting Notes’ template (click here to download PDF) which is extremely useful for jotting down your tasting notes. It has individual sections for flavour, aroma, acidity etc., to help you conduct a detailed tasting.
Wine tasting sheet

How to organise your wine tasting party 


Ensure you have a good amount of space to host your tasting. Wineware suggests that you line up wines in the order of tasting, beginning with whites and finishing with reds (lightest to heaviest, driest to sweetest). You could even create large name labels providing more information on each wine for your guests to read.

Wine Preparation

Make sure you chill your wines properly. Wineware has a ‘Perfect Drinking Temperature for Wine Guide’ to help you know what temperatures to serve wine. Wine decanters and carafes are ideal for serving your wine. We have a good selection of wine decanters if you require these, and we are always happy to advise you on your purchase.


The appropriate glassware makes a tasting complete; ISO wine glasses are the standard tasting glasses. They are recognised as the standard size for wine tasting courses and evenings. If you are still unsure about the type of wine glasses to use, please refer to our ‘What Are Wine Tasting Glasses’ guide.

Leading the tasting

This is the general structure you can follow for your tasting:

Introduce the wine 1. Introduce the wine – once all your guests have arrived, you can begin your wine tasting. Introduce your theme and put the evening into context, perhaps start to hand out appetisers and wine tasting notes/checklists.
Pouring the wine 2. Sample #1 wine – pour your first wine and encourage people to engage in conversation. Remind your guests they can use the tasting notes checklist to jot down any thoughts, and keep in mind the evening is about having fun! No need to keep it formal all the time.
Use Wineware's guides 3. It may be helpful to have printed copies of Wineware’s ‘How to Taste Wine – A Complete Guide’ to give to each guest. This will help your guest’s record detailed observations and notes of each wine.
Bread rolls to cleanse the palate 4. Between each sample, be sure everyone cleanses their palate with water or a snack, such as a bread roll or canapé.
Choose the best wine of the evening 5. After all the wine tasting has been conducted, start a big group discussion. Which is the majority’s favourite wine? Encourage your guests to rank the wines you have sampled and nominate the ‘Best Wine of the Evening’.

Top four tips on hosting a wine tasting party

  1. If you are unsure what wine to serve, look in wine magazines, online and ask wine merchants/shops. There are lots of wine experts on the likes of Twitter etc., who can advise on a wide range of wine varieties.
  2. The wine should never overpower the flavour of any food you are serving.
  3. Water, nuts, crackers and bread are perfect for cleansing the palate in between tasting!
  4. Remember: wine tasting is a friendly and enjoying activity so have some fun with it; cheers!


Contact us!

Do you have any more suggestions or tips on how to host a wine tasting party? Then why not get in touch and let us know your thoughts.