Wine Tasting Club – Host a Wine Tasting Party

By / Wine + Drinks / March 6th, 2009 / 1

Don’t know what to do this weekend? How about hosting a wine tasting party? It’s easier than you might think. Make it as structured or as spontaneous as you’d like. There are just a few tips to keep in mind.

How Much?

The number of bottles served should range from 4 to 8. This amount is directly related to the size of your guest list. Each bottle of wine will generally serve from 12 to 18 people, with each person receiving about 1-1/2 to 2 ounces. That’s just enough to get a good look, sniff and taste of the wine. Then again, having more bottles than you think you might need will allow your guests to have seconds if they wish. Buying this many wines at once can certainly be expensive. If cost is an issue, arrange for everyone to bring one bottle, or to contribute toward the overall cost of the wines.

What to Pour?

There are two factors that will determine which wines you choose for your party – availability and budget. Once you have those worked out, you can move on to the next decision. Will you sample all reds, all whites or a combination that also includes rosés, sparkling and dessert wines? An interesting tasting is to compare Old World and New World grape varieties and styles.


Now that you’ve invited all your friends to your wine tasting party, you suddenly realize that the wine glasses you own are sadly sparse and mismatched. Don’t worry. Party supply stores now carry inexpensive and disposable clear plastic wine glasses. You could, if you like, use a separate glass for each wine, but providing a pitcher of water (or the tap at your kitchen sink) to rinse the glass between wines is more than enough.

What to Eat?

Food is always a little tricky at wine tastings. The issue is that you don’t want the food to coat the tongue and mask the flavour of the wine. Actually, trying to pair food and wine at a tasting is an exercise in futility. With so many wines, matching food could be complicated at best. My advice? Don’t worry too much about pairings. Wine should be enjoyed with food. Let your time, budget and imagination direct you. Offer munchies as simple as bread and crackers. Or you can go all out with a cheese plate, hors d’oeuvres, canapés, fruit, vegetables and dip.

The Main Event

Once you’ve established the number and types of wines, the glasses and the food, you’re ready to go. A wine tasting can last about 2 hours. Provide some buckets so that people who don’t want to swallow the wine left in their glass can pour it out. You can even make it a “blind tasting” by wrapping the bottles in a paper bag. That way, guests can try to rely solely on what their senses of smell and taste are telling them about the wine.

Here’s a simple plan for a wine tasting party:

1. Arrange tables for the food and wine to allow guests free movement.

2. Chill the white wines and rosés. Open the red wines about 15 minutes before serving.

3. Plan the sequence: whites before reds, dry before sweet.

4. Provide guests with pads of paper and pencils so that they can take notes.

5. Enlist one person to pour the wine for all. If that’s not possible, make sure that guests know not to pour more than about 2 ounces. You might even pour a sample to show them.

Above all, drink responsibly and have fun learning about wine.

Next month: Syrah/Shiraz



Rosemary Mantini has always loved words. When she isn't working as the Associate Editor at Tidings Magazine, she's helping others achieve their writing dreams, and sometimes she even relaxes with a good book and a glass of wine.

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