If you enjoy wine and your friends enjoy wine too, a casual wine tasting party can be a great way to enjoy wine together and test each other’s palates. The wine party can be either a blind tasting if you really want to test everybody’s wine skills or you can just get together and try out different types of wines that you and your friends may not have previously had.
When you attend some formal wine tastings it is not acceptable to swallow the wine. In this case, the tasting is simply to assess the wine including the look, taste and smell plus an overall rating of your experience of the wine.
However, at your casual wine tasting party you (and your guests) should feel free to drink the wine and in fact this is to be encouraged.
Just be aware of any sobriety effects and also you may lose some of the full effect of the subtleties of the wine as you get deeper into the tastings.
However way you decide to conduct your wine tasting make sure you have clean glasses both for each person and each bottle. Having clean glasses is very important because any residue in the glass will have an effect on the taste of your wine, usually to the detriment of the wine you are tasting.
It also helps if you have a white tablecloth as this allows everybody to get a good view of the wine. The tablecloth lets you see the wine’s body and any sediment that may be present in the case of an aged wine. In a similar way candlelight allows a clear view of the wine and any sediment that may be in the bottle or decanter.
For a very easy wine tasting party, ask your guests to bring a bottle of their favorite wine and also their own glasses if you do not have enough. If you are opting for minimal catering (this is perfectly acceptable), make sure you have some crackers or bread to help cleanse the palate. Also provide some room temperature water rather than cold water as the latter will shock the taste buds and spoil your appreciation of the wine.
It helps the tasting process if you decant the red wines as this allows them to breathe before being drunk. If you cannot decant all the wines at once, just pour a small amount in each glass and allow the air to interact for a while. The more air contact the wine has, the better they will taste.
As an added component to your wine tasting party, you may consider exploring the difference that decanting makes to the wine flavor. Try tasting the wine at ten and fifteen minute intervals and note the changes. In the case of white, rose and blush wines, a slight chilling should be done before serving.
As the wine party gets underway, start with the lighter and simpler wines and then move on to the drier and heavier wines. The taste of the white wines will be spoilt if you drink the heavier and dry wines first. If it is necessary to reuse a glass, make sure you swirl some water around in it and dry it with a clean cloth as any water remaining on the glass can dilute the wine.
When you and your guests taste each of the wines, have a paper and pencil ready for each person so that they can take notes and rank their wines.
If you are holding a blind wine tasting, place the bottles in brown bags or remove the labels so that nobody knows which wine is which.
Then have your guests make notes as above and guess what the varietals and brands are.
We have prepared some wine tasting notes (as seen to the left) which you can download for free.
With the notes there is also a wine score sheet which you can print out and give to each guest at your party.
Hopefully you have now seen that wine tastings do not have to be formal affairs but rather they can be very casual and a lot of fun.
To help your wine party along there are wine tasting kits that have all the necessary wine bags, tags and other wine information that you may need.