31 May Sip, Savor and Socialize!
Now that spring is in full gear it’s time to throw a wine tasting party. It is easier than you think, not to mention fun! Your guests can learn more about wine and each other. Take turns hosting tastings each month. There’s no better way to sip, savor, and socialize!
Pick a party theme. Try wines from specific countries (Spanish wines), certain grape varietals (Sauvigon Blanc or Syrah), a price range (favorite wines under $20), or perhaps unusual labels—be creative! Looking for inspiration? Search the Internet to see what wine professionals are doing; try www.localwineevents.com. Don’t forget to ask the salesperson at your local wine store. He or she might have great ideas too.
Choose a format. Try a sit-down tasting with each person tasting wines side by side or one by one (the only constraint here may be the number of glasses you have combined with the number of friends you invite). Catering companies often rent wine glasses for reasonable rates. Try a blind tasting, where everyone tastes a series of wines without knowing what they are drinking, by covering the bottles with bags or aluminum foil. This is a great way to focus on the wine without preconceived notions.
Invite friends. Sending invitations can be as easy as sending e-mail or using an online invitation service (www.Evite.com) or try hand-writing beautiful invitations. Tell everyone the theme and ask that guests bring an appropriate bottle. Remember to make sure you have adequate room and glassware for your guests. Eight to twelve people is an optimal size for a home wine tasting party—enough people to be interesting, yet still manageable. Wine tasting parties are great places to make new friends. A great old proverb says “Over a bottle of wine many a friend is made.” You are guaranteed to see this the night of your tasting!
Taste the wine. Have water and bread or crackers available for palate cleansing between tastings. Pour about an ounce or two of wine in the glasses (1 ounce is approximately the width of one finger). Guests may not finish the entire sample, so have pitchers or empty ice buckets to hold the discarded wine. Provide tasting sheets on which your guests can list the wine and their observations and score the wines in the order of their preference. Be sure to give folks enough time to taste and discuss each sample before moving to the next wine. You’ll quickly find that people have different opinions about the same wine. Once everyone tastes the wines, announce (or unveil) the winners and losers!
Think about food pairings. An easy way to handle the food issue is to ask guests to bring a light dish or appetizer, such as cheeses, olives, and meats including salami and pepperoni. This way there is enough variety of foods to test with different wines. To see how the various foods go with each wine make what I call a “wine sandwich™.” Take a sip of the wine alone. Next, take a bite of food followed by a second sip of the same wine. The second sip will demonstrate the effect the food had on the wine. It’s a tasty method for learning which pairings work and which do not.