Hosting a Wine Tasting Party

Hosting a wine tasting party is a fun and easy way to enjoy the company of good friends while exploring new wines.  Here is a quick guide on throwing a wine tasting party of your own.

The Guest List and Wine Buying

Once you’ve decided on your guest list send out an invitation a few weeks in advance so your guests have time to plan which wines they will be contributing. The great thing about a wine tasting party is you will also get to experience your friend’s favorite wines and maybe find a new favorite of your own.  It would be wise to include a list of food and cheeses you plan on providing so your guests can plan their wine selection accordingly or bring their own pairings.As the host, be sure to purchase a few extra bottles of your own for the “just in case” moments.

Selecting the Wine

While you can choose your favorite wine to serve at your wine tasting party, it might be fun to mix it up a bit.  Maybe try sampling different varietals or wines from a specific region or all the same varietals from different brands.  The key things are to be adventurous yet practical.
Many local grocers are now offering a wide selection of wines from around the world.  If you’re looking for a little more wine knowledge, we suggest visiting a wine store or winery.  The staff there should be able to answer any questions you may have as well as offer any pairing or serving tips.   

Setting Up

Hosting a wine party can be as extravagant or casual as you want, that’s the beauty of it being your own party.  Be sure to set the atmosphere keeping it light and comfortable.  Bring in extra seating spaces so everyone has a place to relax and enjoy.  We recommend using a white table cloth as a solid background to assess the color of the wines.  Read up on your wine selections and wine in general.  This knowledge can help when questions come up about a specific wine, varietal or region.
Below you will find a quick list of essentials:

  • Plain bread or crackers: Something light that will help "clean the palate" and pairs with all types of wines.
  • Wine glasses: At least one per guests
  • Pitcher of water: For cleaning out the glasses between each tasting
  • Dump bucket: For discarding wine before next pouring or spitting out
  • Tasting cards & pens/pencils: For describing and recording each wine tasted
  • Paper bags: To cover the labels for blind tastings
  • Wine education information: Expand the experience by offering information about wine, such as wine tasting terms and an aroma wheel.
The Tasting 

People taste wines in different ways, typically you should set the tables with wines ranging sweet to dry beginning with white wines and progressing to light to full-bodied reds. Provide guests with tasting cards to write down the colors, smells and flavors of the wines they’ve tasted.  Leave some room for your guests to write down their wine discoveries so they can buy a bottle of their own.