Hosting a wine tasting party is as simple as inviting your favorite friends over for a drink! It’s the perfect way to have a low-key, fun event and it is also an opportunity to become more educated.
Start by selecting a grape varietal. Limiting the tasting to a single type of wine will help you make accurate comparisons. Once you choose a grape (in this case, pinot noir), ask each guest to bring a bottle. If you like, you can set a price range to help maintain a level playing field. Keep your guests’ opinions unbiased with a blind tasting. Mask the labels by hiding each wine in a paper bag. If you don’t know what you are drinking, your senses will be unclouded by branding and marketing. Set out simple cheeses and crackers for snacking, and please – don’t let any guests leave under the influence, if they are driving!
Drinking wine is easy, but tasting wine requires a bit more focus.
Begin tasting with your eyes. Pour a small amount of wine in the glass. Swirl it around and take a close look at the color and texture of the liquid. The color of each wine is the first unique characteristic you will notice. Some wines are deep red through and through. Others will be dark in the middle, and then change color towards the edge of the glass. Does the wine seem thick, or thin? Does it leave “legs” along the side of the glass as it drips down after swirling?
Next, allow your nose to inform you. Swirl the wine again. Swirling the wine adds oxygen and will enhance your ability to smell the wine. Then take in the scent with a deep breath. Don’t be afraid to put your nose right in the glass. Does the wine smell like a fresh glass of juice, or does it smell like fresh ground pepper? Does it smell like earth and dirt, or is it more floral and perfumed? Make notes about the aroma before you taste a drop.
After you have engaged your eyes and nose, you can sip. When tasting wine, don’t just drink it. Bring a small amount of wine into your mouth slowly. Let it move over your lips, and then allow every part of your tongue to encounter the wine. Different parts of your mouth taste different flavors, so roll the wine around in your mouth before you swallow it. Take into consideration how the wine tasted on the tip of your tongue, and how it tasted after you’ve swallowed. Write down every word that comes to mind, whether it seems relevant or not. You might be surprised by the adjectives that come to you!
Ultimately, this is my golden rule for wine: The wine you enjoy the most is the best. It doesn’t matter if it’s expensive, it doesn’t matter where it’s from or who made it. All that is important is whether or not you like drinking it.
Follow my simple steps for a wine tasting party after the jump!
Bottles of wine
Step 1: Cover the tabletop in butcher paper. Then cut the paper bags down so that the bottle opening is showing.
Step 2: Number each bag and create a numbered list for each guest to take notes. Allow at least one line per wine.
Step 3: Open the bottles and pour a small taste.
Step 4: Swirl, sniff, taste, and drink! Take lots of notes, and challenge yourself to describe your what your senses tell you!