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8 Tips for Hosting a Fun Wine Tasting Evening

Wine tasting evenings are a fantastic way to spend time with friends and family, as well as celebrate a birthday or another kind of event. But how do you create a sophisticated wine tasting evening, without it ending in a drunken mess? We have the solutions…

1) Pick a country

A wine tasting evening isn’t ‘usually’ about opening any bottle of wine and drinking as much as you can before it’s time to leave. But if you want a sophisticated of wine tasting and nibbles, then top wine experts suggest you pick a country.

For example, make a night of sampling New Zealand’s tastiest wines or opt for white and red wines from South Africa. You can decorate your wine tasting party decked out in the flags and colours of your chosen country, and as well as the wine you could include some traditional dishes and nibbles from the country too.

2) Size matters

A wine tasting party on mass is not so much tasting wine but drinking – and usually lots of it. And so, when it comes to wine tasting evenings, a smaller guest list is usually the better option if you want sophistication.

The perfect number of guests for a wine tasting event? According to wine tasting experts, 11 guests and you, the host, so 12 in total. Don’t forget, you’ll need a glass per person and frankly, plastic wine glasses just don’t cut it…

3) Enough wine per person

At commercial wine tasting events, guests are giving a small glass of wine but at a private party, it is customary to have a full glass of wine. Thus, you need to ensure you have enough wine for everyone at your party.

The magic formula is as follows – a typical wine bottle has 25fl oz which is enough for six glasses at just under 4 fl oz each.

If you are tasting three different white wines and two different reds from your chosen wine-producing country and have 12 wine tasters (including you), you will at least two bottles of each wine.

4) Offer hors d’ oeuvres throughout the evening

In fact, kick off your evening with plenty of nibbles and hors d’ oeuvres. These should be tasty but not too spicy or heavily flavoured that it interrupts the taste of the wine.

As well as plenty of nibbles, a wine tasting party should also have water for refreshing the palette in between wines.

5) Set up in advance

Like all parties, a wine tasting party flows better when you have done as much preparation beforehand. And this means some extra preparations in the shape of wine glasses.

Glasses for red wine tend to be more bulbous than a slender wine glass for a white wine. If you are opting for uber-sophistication, make sure every guest has a separate wine glass for red and white wines.

As part of your party tableware, you may want to allocate a glass jewel to each guest which they place on the stem of their glass so that they know which glass is theirs. Between tasting, you could swill the glasses to remove traces of the previous wine. The best way to do this is to taste the white and red wines alternately.

6) Drink it!

At some commercial wine tasting events, the ‘thing to do’ is to swill the wine around the mouth and then spit into a receptacle. However, this is not necessary for a private party. Encourage your guests to enjoy and savour the wine being tasted!

7) The 5S’s

The idea behind tasting wine is to appreciate its finer notes. From a deep spice to floral hues, every wine will have a subtle difference in flavour brought about not just by the type of grape but where it was grown, the type of soil and what the weather was like during the main growing season.

And so, you need to encourage to take time to enjoy these wine notes and you can do this by following the 5S’s;

  • See – once the wine is in your glass, hold it up to the light. Is it clear or there a depth to it that hints at a dramatic plumbiness?
  • Swirl – moving the wine is also thought to bring out its hidden depths
  • Smell – what can you detect when you smell the wine? Are there hints of summer or spicy notes?
  • Sip – rather than knocking it back, take a delicious first sip and let the wine play on the palette
  • Savour – let the afternotes hit the palette too, something that we don’t normally do.

8) Book Taxis!

And finally, as part of your evening, have plenty of taxis booked for a certain time and as your guests leave, why not give them a ‘morning after the night before’ party bag? You could include some headache pills, a bottle of water or a ‘pick me up’ fizzy drink!