How to Host a Wine Tasting Party
By Rachel Thralls, CS
Hosting a wine tasting party in your home has the potential to expose you and your guests to new wines while having a lot of fun in the process. Sitting and sipping wine with good friends; what’s not to love?
Choose a theme
Instead of having a free-for-all, everyone will benefit if you narrow down the field of wines before inviting your guests. Also, think about the time of year to help choose appropriate wines. Here are some ideas for wine tasting themes:
"Priceless" Wine Tasting: Use wines at different price points. Don’t judge a wine by its label or price!
Vertical Wine Tasting: All of the wines are from the same winery and vineyards but the vintage (year) is different.
Horizontal Wine Tasting: All of the wines are from the same vintage (year) but come from different vineyards and wineries.
Old World vs. New World Wine Tasting: Compare wines from different regions of the world
Sparkling Wine or Champagne Tasting: Choose different Champagne or sparkling wines to taste. This is especially fun for a celebration or birthday.
Summer Rosé Tasting: Choose different rosé wines and your guests can choose their favorites for their next outdoor party.
Invite your guests
Invite 6 to 8 guests and ask each person to bring along one bottle that fits in with your theme. Also, ask your guests to bring along their own wine glasses so you are not left with tons of washing to do at the end of the evening. As the host, you are providing the location, inspiration and finger foods!
Blind the bottles
Don’t forget to hide the identity of the wines! You can find long individual bottle bags at most liquor stores that are perfect to use for blinding those bottles. When your guests arrive with their bottles, slip them into these paper bags. Mark the bottles A, B, C and so on and lay out place mats for each guest marked with the same series of letters, making it easy for them to compare the wine. Using a wine key, cut off the foil capsules and pull out the corks which removes the clues to brand identities.
Explain the rules and taste some wine!
Take the time to explain the rules. For example, if doing a “priceless” wine tasting, explain that you have $10, $20 and $30 bottles of wine and that the idea is to taste the wine objectively and guess which wine is which. Provide paper, notecards and pens and encourage your guests to jot down notes, impressions and rankings. Taste, drink, eat, discuss the wines and have fun!
The big reveal
Save the big reveal until all of your guests have tried all of the wines. Get your guests to commit to their favorite wines by either turning in notecards with favorites or raising their hands for their top picks. Remove the bottles from the bags for the big reveal! It’s fun to watch people’s faces, especially if they gave low scores to a famous brand or expensive wine!
"Priceless" Wine Tasting wines to use at different price points. Don’t judge a wine by its label or price!
$10 Wine Picks
White Wine: Coppola’s Rosso & Bianco Pinot Grigio; a refreshing wine that is light, crisp and full of flavors.
Red Wine: Coppola’s Rosso & Bianco Shiraz; a ripe, lush wine with intense berry and spice flavors.
$20 Wine Picks
White Wine: Coppola’s Director's Sonoma County Chardonnay; a smooth, velvety Chardonnay made from cool-climate Sonoma fruit.
Red Wine: Coppola’s Diamond Collection Cabernet Sauvignon; a powerfully complex wine with a classic flavor profile and youthful maturity.
$30 Wine Picks
White Wine: Coppola’s Director’s Cut Russian River Chardonnay; a full-bodied Chardonnay bursting with ripe fruit flavor and prominent oak and spice.
Red Wine: Coppola’s Director's Cut Russian River Pinot Noir; an abundantly flavorful Pinot displaying vibrant tones of red cherry and pomegranate.
Rachel Thralls is a Certified Sommelier and is studying to be a certified Nutrition & Holistic Health Coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York City. She is the owner of FitSomm Rachel.