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Wine Tasting Party at Home Guide

  • There are different wine tastings, such as vertical tasting, horizontal tasting, Old World vs New World wine tasting, or blind tasting, to test your knowledge!
  • Be prepared; the appropriate glassware and the wine's temperature are essential, so make sure Red wine is at room temperature and white wine is in the cooler chilling.
  • Take notes! It's essential to note the wine's taste, look, and smell (aroma) to compare them at the end.

A wine experience is all about the tasting. Therefore, we felt it only fitting to provide you with a few helpful tips on hosting a wine-tasting party. This can occur 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 an 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 on time so your guests can prepare themselves and bring any food/snacks 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 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. 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 changes in wine from year to year; for instance, wines may taste different depending on that year's weather. This type of tasting involves much 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 factors that 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 various wines from a single year but from 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 four to six 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 grown in the 'New World' (i.e., North America, South America, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa). Write down the similarities and differences and determine 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 flavour, aroma, acidity, etc., sections to help you conduct a detailed tasting.
Wine tasting sheet

How to organise your wine-tasting party 

Space

Ensure you have enough 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.

Glassware

The appropriate glassware completes a tasting; ISO wine glasses are standard. 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 wine tasting. Introduce your theme and put the evening into context. Perhaps start handing 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. Remember that the evening is about having fun! There is 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' for each guest. This will help your guests 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, start a group discussion. Which is the majority's favourite wine? Encourage your guests to rank your sampled wines 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. Many wine experts on Twitter 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 between tastes!
  4. Remember: wine tasting is a friendly and enjoyable activity, so have some fun with it; cheers!

 

Contact us!

Do you have any more suggestions or tips on hosting a wine-tasting party? Then why not get in touch and let us know your thoughts!