Hosting the Perfect Home Wine Tasting
29th April 2020
Home wine tastings are a fabulous way to entertain your guests and impress them with your knowledge of wine. Sending invites to a wine tasting will normally gain a quick ‘yes please‘ response as most people like wine and are keen to find out more about the subject.
In most cases the knowledge your guests will have on wine will be very limited and usually stretching to no more than knowing the particular grape variety / style of wine they enjoy to what they have picked up from watching a show on wine from television (I learnt a lot about wine myself initially thanks to Keith Floyd & Jonathan Pedley in ‘Grape Expectations’). I’m sure someone on the evening will question if they still crush grapes by their feet!
You do not want to bore people to death by relating information that is too factual and boring, the most important result from a wine tasting is to have enjoyed the experience and taken away a few facts that you can re-use in the future.
What are you looking to achieve by hosting a home wine tasting?
This could of course hold a variety of answers from impressing people with your wine knowledge to a chance to show off your wine collection, though in most situations the following should be your aim:
- Enjoyment – Your guests need to enjoy the occasion and the schedule you have planned should cater for their knowledge of wine.
- Education – They can learn whilst they taste. Try and make sure you have several useful facts that your guests can take away with them.
- Intimacy – Everyone should feel included and your wine tasting should include everyone with things such as sharing questions and answers along with sharing tasting notes.
Steps to take to host the perfect home wine tasting with nibbles:
It’s going to be a fabulous evening of wining and some dining. It will be unique in many ways as most guests will only have opened one bottle at a time and may never have sat in front of several bottles opened at once. For many it will be like being back at school as the table will be set in such a way that they will know they are in for some learning and participating!
So, you want to plan the perfect home wine tasting? Let’s take a look at the important steps to take:
- Select a theme: Who will be attending is important to consider along with what theme would best suit the occasion. There are many ways to look at a theme*, such as style of wine (still, red, rosé, sparkling, organic etc), the grape varieties, regions, countries etc. There is no point in simply going to the shop and picking out random bottles of wine to taste. For this article we demonstrated a home wine tasting with the theme of ‘Slovenian Sparkling Wine’.
- Research the wines: You can find many wines for sale online or a great place to visit also is your local wine merchant. Once you have selected your wines then place your orders. You should look to research each wine online and pick out facts, stats, tasting notes and more so can inform your guests about the identity of each wine.
- Set the agenda: You should plan how the tasting will go and what format. Are you going for a blind tasting? What order are you tasting the wines? Are you going to set out some questions and answers or maybe even a mini quiz?
- Nibbles and food pairings: It is a great idea to have nibbles at a wine tasting. If you can, set about having food samples for each wine such as cheese for white wines, fruits for rosé and meats for reds (many websites of wineries will list the perfect food pairings for their wines). Try to have small bite sized amounts of foods and not to have any foods that are too smelly or strong in that they ruin the palate and wine tasting experience.
- Setting the table: If you can, have a wine glass for each wine – If you can, select a white wine glass with a decent bowl size. Include on the table: spittoons, water, serviettes, a plate of bread, ice buckets, information sheets.
- Information sheets: Print out information on each of the wines including the wineries / the wine merchants’ website / contact details in case guests have fallen in love with any! It is always good to pick out interesting facts and stats to engage your guests. If your room has a television and is connected to the internet then also search for the wineries on YouTube as many will have videos of their wineries / vineyards and this can add to the evenings entertainment. An example of a winery tour on YouTube.
- Serving the wines: Try and stick to smaller servings of wine. This is not to be stingy, but more so to keep everyone in order and not to let the mixture of wines being tasted go to people’s heads too easily! You should research the perfect serving temperatures for each wine and prepare beforehand for them to be chilled ready when necessary. Once the tasting is completed then this is the time to fill up your glasses with your preferred wines and relax…
For this article we tasted four award winning Slovenian sparkling wines which were:
Tasting Notes: “A punchy aroma, always that way for me with fizz from Vina Štoka. Calms down to give lemon curd, lemon zest and a touch of honey pastry on the nose. I also get freshly squeezed blackberry. Touch dry initially with zesty yellow fruits and dry grapefruit/pineapple candy sweets in flavours.”
Tasting Notes: “A warm golden colour. Aromas are most intriguing with golden fruits, savoury, dried pineapple, tea leaves, herbal and much more. Green fruits in flavour with an almost oily taste sensation. Soft green fruit zestiness, lemon candy, cooking apples and more. Feels like this wine expresses a lot of both the terroir and wine maker.”
Tasting Notes: “A touch of spearmint, herbs and soft creamy fruits on the nose. A sweeter taste sensation with a soft creamy yellow fruit pastry with a dry lemon curd kick.”
Tasting Notes: “Soft cherry blossom, croissant and white strawberry on the nose. Crisp and clean flavours. Fruity with redcurrant, raspberry and a dry strawberry pastry length.”
*More ideas for wine tasting themes: ‘Local wines’ – ‘Champagne vs Prosecco’ – ‘Vintages vs Non-Vintages’ – ‘5 Shades of Rosé’ – ‘Red Sparkling Wines’ – ‘Oak Barrels vs Steel Tanks’ – ‘Vegan Wines’
Co-founder of Glass of Bubbly. Journalist and author focused on Champagne & Sparkling Wines and pairing them with foods.