These wine tasting party ideas will make your gathering fun, educational and a great success!
The most important wine tasting party idea we can give you is to decide ahead of time what kind of wine tasting party you’d like to have. Do you want to have a casual gathering where everyone tastes and comments on a variety of wine that is brought? Or do you want to have a more serious wine comparison party that is both fun and very educational?
While you are considering how organized you want your wine tasting party to be, let’s make sure you have everything you’ll need. Below are some online vendors that will save you time, stress, and money.
Wine Party Invitations
Wine Themed Plates and Napkins
Plates and Napkins
Next, if you’ve decided to have a more organized and educational wine tasting party, here are they types of parties to choose from.
General Wine Tasting
If you and your guests are beginning wine drinkers, a general wine tasting will be best. A general tasting compares different wine grape types (varietal).
This gives your guests a chance to discover which varietal they prefer and to learn to distinguish one from the other.
For example, compare a Sauvignon Blanc, a Chardonnay, a Pinot Noir, and a Cabernet.
Vertical Wine Tasting
If your guests are more experienced wine drinkers, you’ll want to consider a vertical tasting.
A vertical wine tasting compares different vintages of the same wine type from the same winery. This will show you the differences between vintages, rather than between wine types
A vertical tasting is interesting because is allows for just one variable, the year. If you have a vertical tasting, you will want to have notes from the wine maker available revealing the factors that changed from year to year, thereby affecting the wine.
Horizontal Wine Tasting
A horizontal wine tasting is also for the more experienced wine drinkers. It compares wines of the same vintage, but from different wineries. If you hold a horizontal wine tasting, be sure to keep the wine region the same to make the comparisons more realistic.
For example, don’t compare 2005 Syrahs from both Washington and California, rather one or the other.
Blind Wine Tasting
Once you’ve determined the type of testing you’ll have, decide if you’d like to make it “blind”.
A blind wine tasting hides the information on the bottle to make sure the wine, wine maker and vintage information won’t influence your perception of the wine. Scientific research has shown that preconceived ideas about a wine’s cost or growing region does influence perception.
We strongly recommend blind tasting. Be sure to cover each bottle completely to hide your bottle’s labels.
Paper wine bags from a local wine store work very well even though they are not very attractive. They are also easy to write on. Tying them at the top with a colorful ribbon, string or other material will help.
Wrapping each bottle with a cloth napkin looks very nice if you can get them to remain in place.
If you really want to get creative, use something more decorative such as gift bags (see the vendor above) or colored wrap that is not transparent.
Your other option is to decant each bottle into a glass container.
Before you begin, be sure to write down which bottle is in which bag or decanter and keep that information private. We’ve found simply numbering each bag and keeping a separate sheet listing the corresponding wine works well and is easy.
Order Of Wine Tasting
When tasting wine, you don’t want heavier wines to overwhelm your senses and distort the tastes of lighter wines. So at your wine tasting party, have your guests taste the lighter, sweeter wines first and the heavier, dryer wines last.
An appropriate wine tasting order is: sparkling wine – light, younger whites – heavier, older whites – rose – light, younger reds – heavier, older reds – dessert wines.
Stages of Wine Tasting
To fully appreciate wine, you’ll do more than just taste it.
Wine Tasting Glasses
Always use nice, clean,
clear wine tasting glasses appropriate for your wine type. If you are tasting both red and white wine, a light red wine glass will be best.
Another one of the very important wine tasting party ideas is to have a receptacle available for wine to be spit out into. Your guests may want to spit out wine because the wine is unpleasant, or because swallowing all the wine they taste will begin to cloud their judgment.
Have some water nearby so your guests can rinse their mouths and glasses between tastings. This really does help to cleanse your palate. It’s also a good idea for everyone to stay well hydrated.
Wine Tasting Food
Many people want to hold a wine cheese tasting party, but this is not recommended. Wine experts suggest not eating while you are wine tasting because it interrupts your palate.
However, we’ve found this is one of the wine tasting party ideas that can be very impractical, because wine goes with food and everyone will get hungry.
Do try to limit the food to simple crackers with very little seasoning, at least during the main tasting portion of the party. This is important if you want to detect the real flavors and aromas of each wine.
Once everyone’s tasted, written down their observations, and chosen their favorites, it’s time to dig into the cheese and real wine party appetizers.
Wine Tasting Party Forms
At your wine tasting party, you will want to have wine tasting forms for your guests to record their observations, descriptions and ratings. Please see our page on wine tasting forms for all the details.
And our most important wine tasting party idea is to please make sure your guests have a designated driver or take a taxi home.
We hope these wine tasting party ideas have been helpful and that your party is lots of fun and educational too.