So, you’ve decided to host a wine tasting, but you don’t know where to start. An at-home wine tasting event doesn’t have to be complicated—treat it like any other gathering of slightly tipsy individuals. Along with your instincts, below we’ve listed some tools and techniques you’ll need to host a successful tasting:
- Glassware—Allot one glass per person. Pair your wine to the appropriate style of glass.
- Food—Prepare a few dishes for your guests to munch on.
- Spit buckets—Be prepared for those who wish to partake in this traditional tasting technique.
- Centerpiece—Since you have a lot of wine to fit on the table, choose a centerpiece that is not too overwhelming in size or smell.
- Paper and Pencil—Let your guests write down their thoughts on this handy tasting grid.
Choose a Theme
Whether your reason for this soiree is to get away from your kids or just to have an excuse to buy 10 bottles of wine, the theme of your get together will dictate your wine selection. We recommend choosing one of these popular wine tasting themes:
- Regional: Identify two to three wines you’re most interested to taste and sample versions from different regions of the world. Compare Pinot Noirs from wine manufacturers in New Zealand, France, and the U.S. At the end you can tally up and see which was the favorite.
- Blind Tasting: Know the grape. Be the grape. Cover up all the labels on your wine bottles and turn it into a guessing game with your friends. If you want to join in on the fun, have a trusted wine shop select the wines for you.
- Finding Value: This is another blind trial that allows your guests to predict the price point of each wine. Select both high-end and bargain wines from a trusted online wine supplier, and get to guessing! Plus, instead of wrestling each other for what’s left at the end of the event, you can award the person with the closest price estimate a leftover wine bottle.
Wine and Food Pairing
A proper pairing elevates the flavors of the wine and adds a certain ambiance of authenticity to your gathering. You may not be an expert, but with the proper pairing, your guests will never know. Below you’ll find some vital components in choosing complementary flavors.
- Understand the two types of pairings. Congruent pairings create balance by amplifying shared flavors. For example, pairing high acidity dishes like a citrus dessert with a crisp, acidic sauvignon blanc. A contrasting pairing creates balance by contrasting tastes. Such pairings include spicy with sweet, fat with acid, and salt with bitterness. For example, you would pair a spicy dish with a sweet, fruity Riesling.
- Know the common taste components in wine. Wines usually contain varying degrees of acidity, sweetness, and bitterness. When choosing your wines, be mindful of these flavor profiles so you can expertly pair your wines to your food.
- Keep in mind that certain tastes clash. Be wary of items that are bitter, overly spicy, and acidic. Any two of these three flavors paired together puts you on a dangerous route to spit-takes at your dinner table.