Host a Wine Tasting Evening at Home

by Josh

A wine tasting party is a great way to try some new wines and host a casually elegant evening. Don't worry; no one needs to be a wine snob to enjoy a fun tasting.

A wine tasting party is a great excuse to try some new wines and host a casually elegant evening with a bit of entertainment. It can be a great social mixer for house-warmings, birthdays or fundraisers.

Professional wine tastings which are hosted by experts usually proceed through the sample tastings with an explanation of the wine's qualities in an educational lecture-style event. Instead, we make the wine tasting a competition. Don't worry; no one needs to be a wine snob to enjoy this type of get together!

Arrange a ‘Blind’ Wine Tasting!

Spice up the evening with some adventure.

We find that having the guests taste, judge and rate the wines ‘blind’ makes for a more fun and adventurous party. What I mean is, have your guests taste the wines and rate them without being able to see the label or price.

Most people know that labels and prices affect perceptions and impact the ratings people give to certain wines. Even just seeing the bottle styling can affect scores. Luckily there is an easy way to get around this problem.

Just uncork and place the bottle in a brown paper bag. Write a different number on each bag. You can add an elastic band around the top of the bag to prevent people from accidently seeing the bottle when pouring. 

Give out a scorecard with all the wine numbers and have your guests taste, judge, and rate the wines. Tally the overall results to see which wines win. It’s that simple. 

Wine Tasting Evening

Steps to Host a Wine Tasting Party at Home

Before the Guests arrive

Get some people together. Eight to ten (4-5 couples) is about right size crowd.

Pull out four to six wines for comparisons. One bottle of wine can easily be poured in small tasting amounts for 10 people.

Provide pitchers of water and one or two "dump buckets" for your guests to rinse out their glasses so they can be reused. This makes having wine charms more useful since your guests will use the same glass all night. The dump bucket can also used to spit out any wines your guests don’t like.

Set up a central tasting table for the wines. I put the dump buckets to the side on a different table to keep it clear. You don’t want someone accidently spitting on the wine!

Wine Charms

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After the Guests arrive

Give each guest a scorecard, pen and a glass with a wine charm. Ask them to put their name on the scorecard and to use it to rate the wines by their assigned numbers. Ask them to make useful notes about the taste or what they liked or didn't like. The cards will be used to tally the results and after, given back to the guests

For each guest's tasting pour about 2 oz of wine in each glass and have them rate the wine on their scorecard.

Collect the scoring sheet and tally the scores. Return scoring sheets to each guest so they can mark down and remember the names of their favorites. Now just announce the winner and reveal the wine brands and prices.

As you can see it’s really not hard to host a successful wine tasting evening. All it takes is a bit of organisation and a few wine loving friends. Some people are worried about being able to judge a wine as a novice. Make it easy and remind guests it’s just about what you like. Go with your gut and have a good time!

Tips to Make Your Next Tasting a Success

  • Asking your guests to RSVP will make it easier to plan and set up the party.
  • It’s best to have a few extra bottles for after the tasting.
  • Cheese and crackers or some light savory appetizers are great complements to wine and help to clear the palate between tastings.
  • Since most people like discovering new wines we involve them by asking each guest or couple to bring a wine entry fee. You can just specify red or white or, to add to the challenge, be more specific. For example, our guests would be asked to bring a Cabernet under $20. The guest who brings the winning wine gets bragging rights for the rest of the night and everyone goes home with some new wine recommendations.
  • Conduct a wine tasting with a wine aerator. Aerate some wines bottles but not others and see if your guests prefer the aerated wines. If you have double ups, give guests an aerated version of the same bottle.
  • Make a score card rating system and put it on a sign for everyone to see.

Make a score card rating system

Put it on a sign for everyone to see
Wine Tasting Score Card
Updated: 01/29/2016, Josh
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