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Entertaining with Wine

Hosting a Wine Tasting

Hosting a wine tasting is a fun way to spend time with family and friends and to learn more about different types of wine. Here are a few ideas for a successful wine tasting party.

  1. Suggest that guests bring their favorite wine. This will help ensure a variety of wines, and will also give you some insight into what types of wines your guests prefer, should you ever choose to purchase a bottle for them in the future.
  2. When your guests arrive, be sure to chill any white wines and let reds adjust to room temperature. Learn more about serving and storing wine.
  3. Be sure to have plenty of clean wine glasses available. Clear glasses are best, rather than frosted, colored, or patterned. This will allow your guests to see the wine clearly, so they can compare color and clarity of the different types. If you don't have enough glasses, small clear, disposable plastic glasses will also work. It is not necessary to test each wine in a different glass. Glasses can easily be rinsed with water. Avoid using soaps or detergents when rinsing between tasting, as the soap residue can interfere with the taste.
  4. When hosting a wine tasting party, keep in mind that scents, such as perfumes, hairspray and smoke can affect how others smell and taste the wine, as smell plays an important role in how we taste. Avoid using potpourri or scented candles, and you'll help ensure that your guests can have a good wine tasting experience.
  5. If you choose to taste the wines blindly, simply place each bottle in a paper bag, and number each bag. (You can also tape thick paper to the bottle to cover the labels.) You may be surprised about which wine ends up being your favorite! You can also use a wine tasting mat to make it easier to organize the wines.
  6. To prevent wine tastes from overpowering one another, whites should be tasted before reds, and lighter wines like Pinot Grigio should be tasted before full-bodied wines such Chardonnay. Sweet wines, such as dessert wines, should be tasted last.
  7. Offer bland crackers or light bread to help cleanse the palate throughout the process. Save the appetizers until after the tasting, as flavorful foods will prevent accurate impressions of the wine and its aromas.
  8. If you are going to taste numerous bottles of wine, you may want to offer your guests a place to "spit" the wine out after tasting. This is how wine tasting judges taste. Or keep the number of wines low, and just let your guests enjoy at their own pace.
  9. Everyone's palate is different! Your guests may have a wide range of favorites. Keep track of which wines are most popular, and you'll be sure to please the crowd next time you entertain.
  10. Check out How to Taste Wine for an overview on the classic 5-step process of wine tasting.

 

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