How to Host a Wine Tasting Party
Getting started: what you’ll need
- Wine glasses
- Decanter, if you have red wines in your lineup
- Foil cutter
- White tablecloth
- Notepads and pens/pencils
- Palate cleaners, such as salted crackers
- Spit bucket for pouring out excess/unwanted wine
- Technical information sheets for each wine—you’ll likely find them on the wine producer’s website, like this.
Choosing a theme
A theme can be anything from a certain winery/producer or wine region to a single varietal. For example, the theme for our Vertical Vault Tasting Package is a single varietal. It consists of one bottle each of our 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, and 2016 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
How much wine should I buy?
It depends on how many guests you will be entertaining. We recommend pouring two ounces of each wine per guest. This allows them to take several sips, analyze the characteristics, and form opinions about the wine.
As a general rule, you should buy more wine than you think you will need—better to have too much than not enough! Plus, leftovers never pose a problem either.
Tips: preparing for and leading the tasting
- Cover the table with a plain white tablecloth. Then, place white sheets of paper on top of the tablecloth—this will allow you to observe the color of each wine.
- Remove anything from the room that could compete with the wine’s aroma, such as floral arrangements and candles—especially scented ones. If you are doing in-person tastings, ask your guests not to wear perfume or cologne.
- Give your guests a preview of what they’ll be tasting by displaying the wine bottles on a table.
- For red wines, use a decanter so that it has time to breathe.
- Chill white wines before serving, but make sure not to chill it too much—that’ll dull the wine’s flavors and aromas.
- If you have a different glass for each wine, great! If not, just make sure to discard any excess wine before moving onto the next.
- Taste from lighter to heavier wines. In the tasting room, we start with our Chardonnay, then Fumé Blanc before moving on to Zinfandel, Merlot, and finishing with Cabernet Sauvignon.
The most important thing to remember: have fun!
We hope our tips help you throw a successful wine tasting event that leaves your guests with a newfound, or greater, love for wine!