How do we organize a wine tasting?
My friends and I think having a wine tasting sounds like fun. The trouble is, we don’t know much about wine. How do we organize a wine tasting?
The good news is tastings are fun and the best way to learn more about wine is to taste wine. Of all the books I’ve read and courses I’ve taken on the subject, nothing has taught me more about fermented grape juice than putting it in my mouth. While having someone with a bit of knowledge lead your adventure certainly helps — especially if you have questions to ask and they have stories to tell — that isn’t a necessary foundation for an entertaining evening. Using your ignorance as a theme, you can build a tasting and learn a little something by starting with the very basics.
Tip number one: remember you’re organizing a wine tasting, not a bachelor party. Keeping your wine count to six will let your guests focus on what’s in their glass rather than on tying one on. Keep the samples small; once the analytical part of the evening is over, those who wish can have a heftier reintroduction to their favourite.
Tip number two: wine is made from grapes. Getting familiar with their individual characteristics is the first step to wine geekdom. If your gang really doesn’t know much about wine, head to your local liquor store and ask for a quintessential version of popular whites and reds. Try Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, along with Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. An average price of around $15 per bottle will get you what you need. Don’t worry about where they come from for now, you’re only interested in how well each reflects the grape’s typical personality traits.
Tip number three: you don’t need fancy glasses or tasting sheets. A standard tulip-shaped receptacle has a universality that will cover all bases and a piece of paper is all you need to make notes (and you should make notes). As host, it’s up to you to go online and put together an aromatic and flavour profile of each grape. Don’t worry, some nerd has already done the work for you. Just click print.
Come tasting time, let everyone try each wine and jot down what jumps out at them and then review against your internet descriptors. Though there are no wrong answers, having your panel give it another go after they know what to look for is the best way to hone their perceptive skills.
Other options are to picks grapes popular in one country, examples of one grape grown in various countries or wines famous from one country or individual regions. You want fun, so make it fun.