If you love wine but are not confident in your ability to identify certain types of wines simply by taste, wine tasting parties are a fun way to expand your knowledge. The following tips will help you plan a wine tasting that would make even a master sommelier proud. The Number of Guests: When it comes to the optimal number of guests for a wine tasting, 12 seems to be the magic number. The group is small enough to be intimate but large enough to ensure some lively debate when it comes time to discuss the merits of each wine. This number also makes it easy to determine the correct amount of wine to purchase since a bottle of wine will give you about a dozen two-ounce pours. Pick a Theme: There are a number of different ways to organize your tasting. For example, you can feature a single type of wine or wines from a particular region or price point. For a professional style wine tasting, you can choose either a horizontal or vertical tasting. A horizontal tasting typically features wines from a single vintage from multiple producers. A vertical tasting features multiple vintages of one type of wine from a single producer. These methods allow you to discover the subtle nuances between wines of different vintages and producers. Another alternative is a blind tasting in which the identities of the wines are not revealed until after the tasting. The Food: To ease the stress of preparing for the party, you can ask each guest to bring a dish that will pair well with the theme and the wine being served. When pairing wines with food, you can choose pairings that either complement or contrast with one another in terms of flavor, texture, or intensity. You also want to ensure that you have plenty of water and crackers on hand to serve as palate cleansers. Supplies:
- You need to have at least two wine glasses per guest. Your local restaurant supply store is a good source for inexpensive glasses.
- Have glass charms on hand to help each guest identify their glass.
- Have decanters available for red wines along with ice buckets for your white wines.
- Place coasters and napkins around the room to prevent drips and spills from staining your furniture.
- You will need a couple of dump buckets and plastic cups as personal spittoons so that your guests do not feel like they have to drink everything that they are served.
- Have printouts available with the technical information on each wine along with cards that your guests can use to take notes.
- Remember to have a supply of Wine Wipes available for your guests so that they do not go home with stained teeth.