If you aren’t a drinker, then a post about wine tasting is not the one for you. I try to make food and booze interchangeable, but unless you’re going to do a mini-prepackaged food party, it would take a lot more work to incorporate food. I’ve talked about having mini-cooking competitions before, so maybe that is the way to go for you. But if you do like wine, one of my favorite ways to have a classy little gathering is to host a wine tasting.
Readers, you do not have to be a wine expert to do this. You honestly don’t need to know anything about wine at all, as long as you can read the labels when you’re buying the bottles. If you do want to know a little something before you start, you might want to pick up The Wine Bible or Wine for Dummies. Be warned: They’re not quick reads. There are other books about wine that are a lot smaller, but I haven’t read them so I can’t recommend any. When my sister and I started drinking wine, we went all in. You don’t have to read the whole book to host a little party though; once you decide what you’re tasting you’ll be able to find that specific chapter.
Okay, so this is going to be a super easy prep. First choose, your guest list. I usually invite a couple or two, or friends that really love wine. Sometimes I’ll do a combination, but I try not to make anyone a fifth wheel during a wine tasting. I don’t personally mind being a third or fifth wheel, normally, but if you put me in Napa Valley with two couples and not my husband, I think I’d wind up drinking too much.
Anyway, who you invite isn’t really that important, except for their level of wine knowledge. Do they like wine, but basically know nothing past red or white? Are they so advanced you’ll have to impress them with a tasting of Bordeaux’s by year? (Good luck with that one.) Knowing this will help you pick what wine to drink. Now, you can ask them to bring wine, or buy it all yourself, but that’s up to you. Just make sure they know what to bring. Last time I did various white wines; we each picked one and tried to see if we could guess what it was. Fun fact: We could not.
You already decided whether or not you’re buying all the wine or not. If you are, better go get some! You also absolutely need to make sure you have enough wine glasses. Guys, this is the easiest kind of gathering to throw. You’re not cooking or decorating anything. It would just be silly to your good wine in plastic cups to avoid cleaning a few glasses. Everything else is going to go straight in the garbage, so get out the good dishware.
Next, you’re going to want some kind of a palate cleanser (like oyster crackers), or even little bites to go with the wines. Again, this is something you can ask your guests to bring if you like. Sometimes if I get the wine, my sister will get cheese, or vice versa. If you don’t already have a wine guide, a quick Google search will tell you what to pair with which wine. Set it out nice and pretty, and then cut a few pieces of printer paper in half for tasting notes. If you want to get really fancy, you can print out your tasting notes instead. That’s it! How easy is that?
Wine Tasting Example
Need: 3 bottles of wine (1 chardonnay, 1 sauvignon blanc, 1 pinot grigio)
Cheese Pairings: Brie & chardonnay; mozzarella & sauvignon blanc; ricotta & pinot grigio
Tasting notes: You’ll definitely want to list what type of wine it is, along with taste. Some other ideas are aroma/smell, taste, finish, appearance, and points. I’m attaching a downloadable version of my own super simple notes here. Notes for Wine
Things to write on tasting notes if you are not into wine but want to feel like you are: fruity, leafy, earthy, oaky, buttery. Or, my personal favorite, bramble. A sommelier once told me to call all wines brambley and everyone will be confused enough to agree.
I really do hope you can enjoy a little tasting party like this. There’s not a lot of effort to it, but you know what? Making wine the focal point of the event honestly does make it seem like it’s a high class affair. I don’t know why that is – I guess rich people have succeeded in their trickery of getting us to believe whatever they want to tell us. We’ll talk about beer tastings at some other time; strangely enough, I do not throw those the same way. If you don’t drink at all, I do apologize! I’m sure you could come with an alternate; apple cider maybe? That actually sounds kind of fun, it is a little chilly right now. Maybe next time…