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How to Host a Wine Tasting

An at-home wine tasting with fellow wine enthusiasts provides a casual and friendly opportunity to learn about and compare different types of wines, and to gain an understanding of your own taste preferences. As a bonus, wine tastings require less planning, shopping, and cleaning than dinner parties, allowing you to spend more time enjoying both your guests and the wines.


Wine Selection: I’m Sensing a Theme Here…

As with a birthday party, we recommend choosing a theme for your wine tasting. A specific theme will prompt your guests to pay greater attention to the wines at hand as well as simplify planning, thus making it overall an enjoyable and enriching experience. However, unlike a birthday party, a themed wine tasting event will focus on the wine itself.

Many wineries now offer virtual wine tastings, which are great options because the heavy lifting is done for you. With our virtual tastings, you can either choose a pre-fixed wine selection or customize your selection, which takes care of the theme. For example, our Vertical Vault Tasting Package consists of 6 bottles total — 1 bottle each of our 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, and 2016 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. The theme here is focused on a single varietal from different vintages. From there, the wines are shipped directly to you, and you have the option of a wine educator to walk you through the wines you’ll taste.

Set-up for Success

9-21-how-to-host-tasting-1On the day of your wine tasting, once you have everything you need (see list below), you can start to set up!

What You’ll Need:

  • Wine glasses
  • Decanter
  • Two corkscrews, in case one breaks
  • Foil cutter
  • Wine and wine bottles
  • A large table for glasses, bottles, tasting sheets, and notes
  • Water glasses and filled pitchers of water
  • Palate cleansers, such as unsalted crackers
  • Note pads, pens, and pencils for recording impressions of each wine
  • Dump bucket to pour out excess wine (or any container with high sides that will keep the wine from splashing)
  • Small paper cups for guests to spit out the wine (this is a good idea if you are tasting multiple wines, as drinking rather than spitting out the wine will exhaust your palate more quickly)

How to Prepare for a Successful Wine Tasting:

  • 9-21-how-to-host-tasting-2Cover the table with a plain white tablecloth. On top of the tablecloth, place white sheets of paper (legal size) to observe the color of each wine.
  • You may want to print the accompanying technical information sheet for each wine you will taste. It is likely that the wine producer has these on their website. (See example here)
  • Remove anything from the room that could compete with the wine’s aroma, including floral arrangements and candles, especially scented ones. If you are doing in-person tastings, ask your guests not to wear perfume/cologne.
  • Display the wine bottles so the guests get a preview of what they’ll be tasting.
  • If you will be pouring red wine, use a decanter so that it has time to breathe. White wine should be chilled prior to serving, but not too much. Too much chilling dulls the flavors and aromas of wine.
  • It’s ideal to have a different glass for each wine but using one glass during the tasting is acceptable as long as excess wine is discarded 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 the Cabernet.



Most importantly, enjoy the wines and your friends! And, if you enjoy hosting tastings, consider joining our wine club.