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How best to stage a wine tasting?

Posted on November 4, 2018 at 13:43:10

Posts: 2697
Location: Washington, D.C.
Joined: February 12, 2004
I'm new at this, but I enjoy reading about the wine tasting parties here. So, for a newbie who's looking to invite in a few new neighbors, how best to stage a tasting?

What is an ideal group? Six?

Best time of day to host?

Blind test each bottle? New glasses with each new wine? I assume some nibbles in between wines. What's ideal?

What would be a good "family" of wines to get out the gate? Chards? Merlot?

Any other advice on hosting?


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How best to stage a wine tasting?, posted on November 4, 2018 at 20:15:14

Posts: 38035
Location: SF Bay Area
Joined: April 22, 2003

...if you want to make it a party instead of a serious sit-down wine tasting, he are my suggestions, but it can be either.

Pick a type of wine - chardonnay isn't a bad idea since many women drink it instead of reds.

For 6 of us, each of us brings a bottle of our favorite. For 12 when we invite our wives, everybody brings 2 bottles of their wine. We ask everybody to bring 6 glasses if it's a sit-down tasting.

We open the wines, take off the foil, bag them and label each wine with a letter from A to F. More than 6 wines gets too confusing.

Everybody has time to taste, say an hour, maybe before you serve dinner if it's going to be that type of party.

If it's not dinner but a sit-down tasting, you can serve pieces of bread, some cheese and sliced meat, for example, something that will go with the wine, along with glasses of water. Some chocolate afterwards.

You will need tasting sheets where you can list the wines on the bottom and allow people to score and take notes. Then everybody rates the wines 1 through 6, 1 for the one they like best and 6 for the one they like worst.

Or to keep it simpler, you can just have people rate the choice for best and worst. Or just best.

Add up the point scores, and the low score wins. Uncover the bottles from bottom score to top as people describe what they tasted and the reason for their rating.

I've been to wine tasting dinner parties where 6 people brought a bottle of their favorite cabernet and everyone wandered around and talked and tasted from the bagged bottles with only a single glass. They then voted on their favorite which was revealed at dinner.

Have fun.


RE: How best to stage a wine tasting?, posted on November 5, 2018 at 08:50:51

Posts: 2797
Location: Texas
Joined: May 31, 2004
All good suggestions.

I'd add a pitcher of water and bucket for the people that want to rinse their glass between wines. Saves on all the glass cleanup.

Also wine charms are a good idea. Makes it easier for everyone to keep up with their own glass.


RE: How best to stage a wine tasting?, posted on November 6, 2018 at 21:01:14

Posts: 785
Location: Walla Walla Washington
Joined: September 4, 2001
I guess it depends what your end game is. For me tastings are learning experiences. So I do it differently.
The host pics and supplies the wines. Why? To keep the theme consistent. Usually with a group of six or more, someone in the group will fail to bring a qualifying wine. (You say bring Chardonnay from Santa Barbara and one person brings Napa)

Have a glass for each wine.

No food. Food changes means you are tasting how food changes the wines. If you have tannic wines I guess plain crackers may be helpful or...wait for it...knox blox! Gelatin cleans your palate of with that what you will.
And btw, a great tasting is picking one wine and seeing how different foods change the wine.

Be adventurous! The world is full of wine and most of it is not expensive. Don't focus on Spain...focus on Bierzo. Don't taste Germany taste Mosel. Zero into places. And keep vintages the same. I'm not sure the point of comparing 5 wines from 2015 and one from 2014. Thats not fair or informative. Want to taste the differences weather can make? Compare the same wine from 5 vintages.

Research before the tastings...after the blind tasting, tell everyone some facts about the areas and or varietals you are tasting.

Have fun....don't be too serious. Learning can be and should be fun.


Thanks for the great tips!, posted on November 7, 2018 at 13:58:39

Posts: 2697
Location: Washington, D.C.
Joined: February 12, 2004
Excellent thoughts.

I'm looking forward to hosting a session - once we get through the holidays. I think it could be fun. And if it turns out well, maybe make it a regular social thing with a few good neighbors. Who knows, maybe they'll get the bug to host a tasting as well, too.

Thanks again!


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