Hosting a wine tasting party sounds exciting, but you may not have much experience dealing with wine. That’s not a problem! You can still host a memorable party, and before you know it, you’ll become the go-to host for all the wine parties! Follow this guide to explore how to host a wine tasting party with little experience.
Do Some Homework
When you host a wine tasting party, your goal is for people to try and enjoy new wines. You want your guests to learn something new and have fun! You may be struggling with knowing where to start. Look for books with a compact, illustrated guide that will show you what to purchase and how to enjoy each wine. Grab a book or two to skim or read through and refer back to if needed.
You can also book a wine sommelier to guide you through the process. When you book a WTSO.com virtual food and wine pairing, you have the option to add a wine expert to guide you through each wine and food pairing. We customize each event to create an unbeatable and unique experience.
Choose a Theme
What would you like your wine tasting party to focus on? Variety, value, region, style? It’s all up to you!
- Value—Focus on a specific dollar amount (example: premium wines versus budget buys)
- Variety—Choose samplings of the same wine varietal, but from different regions (example: red wines or Italy or white wines of France)
- Region—Pick a particular region and sample different wines unique to the area (example: Old World versus New World)
These are a few ideas, but feel free to create your own!
Ensure You Have Enough Wine
You want to make sure you have enough wine for each guest to truly enjoy the delectable wine. Look for wines in a range of prices and plan to serve them from lightest to darkest. Red wines have potential to be better endnotes because they are heavier and more full-bodied.
If you want to relieve some of the pressure from yourself, enlist guests to bring a bottle of wine from an assigned region. Let them know a few weeks in advance, giving them ample time to search for the perfect bottle and buy the wine online from WTSO.com.
How much wine should you pour for each guest? Each person should be given a 2-ounce pour, but most people will want a re-taste. A single bottle of wine typically contains 24 ounces, giving you 12 2-ounce pours from each bottle.
It’s always better to have too much wine than not enough. One bottle per person is a rule of thumb.
Keep Things Intimate
Wine tastings are typically an intimate event. Do your best to keep the guest list to ten guests or fewer. A smaller gathering encourages conversation and makes it easier to portion bottles of wine. Once you exceed ten guests, you have to consider buying multiples of the same bottle of wine since most guests want to taste the wine after they’ve consumed their 2-ounce portion.
Figure Out Food Pairings
Of course, wine is the guest of honor, but that doesn’t mean you can spend less time focusing on food pairings. Guests will be equally as excited about the delicious bites you’ll offer with each sip.
Spend time deciding if you want to serve a cheese platter, tasty bites, or make the food more elaborate. Once you’ve decided which route you’re taking, create a menu and a grocery list with precisely what you’ll need.
If you’re going for a cheese plate, at the minimum, you’ll need something creamy and soft like brie, a cheese that’s crumbly and sharp like a white cheddar, or a bold option like gorgonzola. Balance the cheese with a variety of fruity, salty, and sweet snacks like grapes, crackers, olives, and dried fruit.
Ensure You’re Organized
Trays and serving boards will be your best friend while you’re preparing for your wine tasting party. They make for a beautiful presentation, and they can hold and organize multiple wine glasses to serve your guests. Head to a local store to pick out a few new ones to match the aesthetic you’re aiming for at the party.
When you head to the grocery store, go a few days in advance in case you forget anything or the store is out of a particular item. You allow yourself time to head back or to a different store without the last-minute stress.
Make It Seasonal
Keep in mind what season you’re in when decorating your tablescape and thinking of which wines to feature. Decorate with tulips and cheerful colors if you’re enjoying some springtime sips. Embrace the vibrancy of summer and stick with crisp, light, and refreshing wines for summer. During the fall, decorate with mums and rich fall colors. Are you hosting a winter wine tasting? Greenery never fails, and don’t forget to sip on the spiced wines that make winter extremely special.
Serve the Wine Correctly
A good rule of thumb for the serving orders of wine should be bubbly, light whites, rich whites, rosés, light reds, bold reds, and dessert wines. Follow the following guidelines for the temperature of the wine:
- Bubbles: 40-45 degrees
- Whites: 40-50 degrees
- Reds: 55-65 degrees
These are the temperatures at which they show best, but it’s not the end of the world if you don’t have a temperature-controlled wine refrigerator.
Jot It Down
To take off some of the pressure to remember everything, make notes or leave labels on the tabletop. Make notes for which wine pairs with which cheese or bite. When it comes to the wine, jot down the brand, wine variety, year, and a few tasting notes to educate the guests.
Have little notebooks or note cards on hand for guests to write down any notes regarding the wine. For example, if they’re drawn to a particular type, they can quickly write the name of the wine to pick it up from the store. Now everyone can focus on the discussion and experience in real-time.
Give Away Great Party Favors
You must send your guests home with memorable party favors to be a good host. One idea is to have each guest bring their favorite bottle of wine as an extra. Add this wine to a bottle swap! Each guest picks out which new wine they’d like to take home and try.
Another idea is to purchase adorable notebooks and pens for attendees to take notes and take home at the end of the night. Or, find some monogrammed wine glasses for each person to enjoy for years to come. These are all fantastic party favor ideas to keep the fun going.
Hosting a wine tasting party with little experience doesn’t have to be complicated. Follow the guidelines above to ensure an enjoyable time for all guests.