If you love wine – and you love serving good wine at parties – wine tasting might be your idea of a perfect night in.
For those of you who’ve never hosted your own wine tasting party before, here’s a few tips to get you started.
A guest list for a wine tasting party needs some thought. It’s best to keep the group relatively small; perhaps a maximum of eight or 10. Any more, and you’ll lose track of people’s discussions and tasting notes. You should also be considerate of your guests, and invite only those that you think will enjoy and relish a wine tasting – don’t, for instance, invite a heavily pregnant or teetotal friend along.
Choose your wine
Some hosts like to think of a theme for their wine tasting party: for instance, Southern Hemisphere Reds, Best Beaujolais, or Sauvignon Blancs from Around the Globe. If there’s a theme you want to follow, don’t be shy; but similarly, there’s no need to have any other theme for your tasting than Good Wine.
It might seem like you need a lot of wine for a tasting, but if it’s truly a tasting that you’ll be doing – rather than copious imbibing – you probably won’t need more than one bottle of each wine for a party of 10. That’s because tasting doesn’t require a glass to be filled – around 50ml will be plenty (each bottle typically contains 750ml). If there’s a wine you think is likely to be popular, however, it’s a good idea to get more.
And if you’re unsure about what choices to make, head to a wine specialist: they’ll help you choose a great selection for you and your guests.
If you’re buying your wine from a large retailer like Majestic Wines or Waitrose, you’ll get free glass hire too. You’ll probably need two glasses per guest: one for red wine, and one for white. If champagne features in your wine tasting, you’ll need champagne flutes or saucers too. You’ll also require tumblers and jugs for water: this is very important at a wine tasting as it helps your guests clear their palates between wines.
You might also want to get – or fashion your own – wine spittoon. The traditional way to taste wine is to swirl it around your mouth, before spitting it out into a receptacle (usually, a spittoon). Today, most people prefer simply to swallow their wine. But if your guests want to do it the ‘proper’ way, it’s handy to have a spittoon to accommodate their wishes.
Other possible accessories you might want on hand are bottle stoppers, for those bottles that go unfinished, wine aerators, wine coolers and, of course, a corkscrew or two.
Food served at a wine tasting deserves careful thought. For simplicity’s sake, it’s worth restricting your spread to just one thing: cheese is an excellent option. However, if your tasting is country-themed, you might also wish to pair wines with food or canapes from that country. And if you’ve got a dessert wine on your rota, then a few small bites of pudding are essential.
Have you ever thought about hosting a wine tasting?