A wine party is a great way to break the social ice and learn something along the way.
Here’s our road map to hosting a successful wine tasting party: just spend a little time putting together the proper elements and you’re on your way!
- Pick a Theme
A wine tasting party works best if it is organized around a theme like a specific grape variety, region or country. Once decided, it forms the glue that will help you focus your activities and wine selections. To involve your guests (and keep costs down) ask them to bring a bottle that fits your theme.
- Open, Taste and Talk
Instead of opening the wine bottle by bottle, I recommend opening four to six bottles at a time so everyone can sample and compare. Pour small amounts at a time (I recommend 2-ounce servings), which encourages “tasting” over “drinking.” As the host, you may want to open the party and talk about the theme you chose, and ask others to share why they chose the wine they did.
Tasting wine is all about the experience and flavours – and good glassware really does help wine taste better! To truly do your wine justice, invest in some good quality glass or crystal. Make hosting easy by choosing versatile glasses that can be used for both red and white wines. To add some fun and creativity to your party with themed stickers, glassware markers or wine charms.
- Food Pairings
Remember that when pairing food and wine, you should match the weight of the wine with the weight of the food. If you are serving Shiraz, Zinfandel or Malbec as your grape variety (or a region that makes these varieties), choose food pairings that work with juicy red wines, such as beef sliders or chocolate. If you’ve chosen Pinot Noir, Gamay or Merlot, choose medium-bodied fares such as duck and pork. If Riesling, Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc is your theme, crisp whites go well with seafood, cheese, and chicken. Even easier is to align wines with regional dishes like robust Italian wines paired with delicious, easy-to-serve antipasto platters.
- Music & Location
Music is the fairy dust of your party. Whether your theme is focused on French wines, Argentina Malbec or California Chardonnay, why not create a playlist to match.
If you entertain regularly, try to host your parties in different venues or areas of your home (by the fireplace, outside on the patio, or even a restaurant) to keep things interesting. Add decorative elements that evoke your wines regions, look at hosting at a restaurant where you can pay a corkage fee and bring your own wine, so there is no cleanup or prep.
- Sip and Play
Have decanters, ice buckets, and extra glasses out for the group to use. I also recommend a game or two. People love getting interactive, so pick a fun ice-breaker game to get your guests involved and engaged
- Entertain Responsibly
Keep your guests hydrated. Have flat and still water on hand at all times and separate water glasses to encourage responsible drinking. Know who your drivers are and keep a good selection of non-alcoholic drinks available. Don’t overserve and your first wine party won’t be your last!