Regardless of whether your guests are experienced oenophiles or are new to the world of wine, a wine tasting social brings friends together for an afternoon or evening of entertainment.
“Try to think of the type of guest that you will be having,” says Tedi E. Plate, Assistant Marketing Manager at Millbrook Vineyards and Winery in Millbrook, NY, “if these are budding oenophiles, then choose something different and exotic like Chilean Carménères.”
For a group that is fairly new to wine choose a varietal or regional wine that people already know a little bit about, for example, New York State Rieslings.
“Generally, I say to stay between five and eight for a wine tasting,” Plate said, “any less than five doesn’t give enough variety, but over eight, your guests will have a hard time deciphering the last few.”
If you choose white wines, have a wine holder with ice available to keep the wine from getting warm. If you are tasting reds that need to be canted, be sure to do so before your guests arrive so the wine has ample time to open up.
Plan at least one and a half to two hours for the tasting to allow guests time to talk in between each wine without having too much time in between. Provide plenty of chairs for guests to sit, enjoy, and contemplate their wine.
Have information available on each of the wines and provide guests with pen and paper to write down their thoughts as they have them.
If you decide on a blind tasting, place each wine in a paper bag and unveil the wines once the tasting is complete. To add a little fun, maybe even allow people to guess the wines before the big reveal. Then, award a winner via a raffle. You can do one winner and choose the bottle that was either guessed correctly the most number of times, or even better, the bottle that was guessed correctly the least number of times. If you’re feeling extra gracious, award each bottle to a separate winner.
For a more formal atmosphere, consider hiring a sommelier. Culinary schools may also be able to facilitate a tasting.
“Most of all, don’t try to take it too seriously. Enjoy the good food, good wines, and most of all good company,” concludes Plate.