Planning Tips & Ideas - Wine Tasting Party
Party Resource Guide
Presented by Event & Wedding Planners
wine is the star of the party.
Throwing a wine tasting party is limited only by
your imagination. These
Party Ideas may help or come up with some ideas of
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Wine Tasting Party Ideas
This is your big chance to do
something different. You don't want one of those gatherings
marked by the same people, same conversations, too much
food, too much liquor, and the grape as an afterthought.
How about hosting a theme party, with wine as the theme?
Since you're going to serve wine anyway, a little extra
effort in selecting the right wines is all that's necessary
to make the evening memorable. The preparation is simple,
requiring only that you chill the Champagnes and white wines
and then pop the corks on whatever you've chosen.
A wine tasting can have several themes to choose from. You
can select exemplary wines paired with the foods you are
serving or you can opt for wines from a particular country
or region with foods to match. Anybody up for a make-believe
evening in Madrid? Another option is going with oversized
bottles or wines from different vintages.
We've put together a few tips and suggestions. Just pick
your theme and let your spirit of adventure be your guide.
Your invitations will set the tone for your theme. After
all, what good is a theme if your the only one that
understands it. With all that computer power you have you
can come up with an impressive little missive that says
exactly what you want at practically no cost.
If you're planning a tasting of fine Burgundies -- perhaps
the five best vintages since 1998 -- then say so in the
invite. If your serving Australian wines, you might decorate
your invitation with pictures of kangaroos and koalas, and
the text might read something like:
Join us for a little cheer, Oz-style,
on June 5, 2009
at 6 o'clock in the evening
We'll be pouring our favorite Australian wines
and throwing some shrimp on the barbie.
Well you get the idea. The point is to let your guests know
that something special is afoot.
Getting Ready For
Always make sure you have enough glassware. While that
sounds obvious, unless your in-laws own a Riedel outlet, you
are almost certain to run out of glasses. And there's
nothing worse than having to wash glasses during your party.
Renting or borrowing are far better alternatives.
If it's a more formal tasting party, it's good to provide
scoring sheets. This gives structure to your tasting and
helps people compare the wines in an organized way. Make
sure to leave space for comments on color, aromas, flavors
and finish, Even those who are relatively new to wine
tasting seem to enjoy jotting down notes and ranking the
wines. To make it simple, instruct your guests to grade the
wine using a familiar scoring system, such as the A-to-F
range from their school days, or the 100-point scale.
Spit buckets, the butt of so many jokes, are very important,
particularly if some of your guests will be driving home.
Encourage anyone who is planning to get in the car after the
party to use them.
Stock up on bread and seltzer. Bread helps cleanse the
palate between wines, while seltzer or club soda is
especially useful not only to drink between sips of wine,
but also as a stain remover should any red wine be spilled.
The Wine and Food
This is perhaps the simplest type of tasting party to throw:
Line up a dozen or so dishes that can be eaten out of hand,
and serve them with wines that match.
Oysters on the half shell with mineral-laden Chablis
Caviar, consider seeking out a bottle of bone-dry champagne,
marketed under names like ultra-brut, brut savage and brut
Seared sea scallops with California Chardonnay.
Frenched lamb chops, Bordeaux is my first choice, especially
when the lamb is cooked with rosemary and other herbs to
match the natural herbaceous quality of the wine. But just
about any dry red is fine, including Burgundies, Rhones, New
World Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Syrah/Shiraz, and
Northern Italian reds.
Smoked salmon on rye bread with an aromatic Viognier
Pear crescents rubbed with lemon juice and sprinkled with
crumbled Roquefort cheese served with a tawny Port.
Pate de foie gras with Sauternes
The Big Bottle Bash
Bigger is definitely better at parties.
A magnum serves twice as many people and is twice as much
fun as a regular 750ml bottle.
Party-size big bottles include:
Double magnums (equal to four regular bottles).
Jeroboams ( 6 bottles)
Imperials (8 bottles)
Big bottles also make for a great Trivia Game. You can even
have prizes for the folks who know the answers.
Can the bubbly lovers name all the Champagne bottle sizes
(including the Salmanazar and the Nebuchadnezzar)?
Does anybody know the name of the Bordeaux bottle that comes
between the magnum and the double magnum? (It's the 2.5
The Port bottle that's bigger than a magnum and smaller than
a jeroboam? (The 2.25-liter tappit hen.)
Just remember: The bigger the bottle, the more strength,
pomp, and circumstance required to lift and pour. So it's
wise to make sure you have a few extra decanters handy,
since you will need to pour the wine from the large bottles
into more manageable vessels.
This throwback from the 60s is the perfect party if you live
in a neighborhood where people can walk from one house or
apartment to the next. (Of course, this party requires that
you know neighbors, an increasingly rare phenomenon. But it
can be a good way to get to know them, too.)
Ideally, each house serves a different type of food, with
wine chosen to match what everyone will be munching.
Progressive parties are a good way to combine several
fiestas into one, and they keep everyone active, preventing
conversation from growing stale. And you also get to work
off some of those calories.
The BYOB Party
BYOBs are fun, as all your guests become involved in the
staging, although as host you should coordinate the theme,
which can be anything: red wines priced at $30,
wines that have a score more then 90 points, a bottle from a
significant year in your life (birth, graduation, year of
marriage,, etc). It's an interesting way of getting to know
people, and at the same time an excuse to open up some older
The Wine Sniffing
This party requires a couple of props, a glass of wine for
pleasure and a Bacchanales Tasting kit.
Divide your guests into two groups: often the men make one
team and the women, another.
The referee, which can be you, or anyone for that matter,
then takes one of the phials from the kit and gives it to
one member of the team. If he or she can identify the smell,
the team gets three points; if not, the remaining team
members get together for another chance at identifying the
aroma. A right answer earns one point, but if they still
can't guess it correctly. the phial goes to the other team
for a point.
I hate to say it, but chances are the winner will be the
women. It has been scientifically proven that women have
more acute senses of smell than do men.
The Horizontal, Vertical or
Diagonal Tasting Party
These are fairly serious sit-down tastings. and can be done
before a meal, but more often the wines are served with
The Horizontal Tasting Party
A horizontal tasting consists of different wines from a
single year and matches them against each other. The wines
can be completely unrelated or have something very specific
in common, such as Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignons from
The Vertical Tasting Party
A vertical tasting focuses on the same wine from several
years, for instance Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet
Sauvignon from 1985 to 1995.
Be warned: Unless you already have the wines on hand, a
vertical tasting can be a bit pricey and time-consuming to
put together. But you'll be repaid in enjoyment, as the
extra effort required will result in a fun and instructive
evening for all involved.
The Diagonal Tasting Party
A diagonal tasting is akin to conducting a horizontal and
vertical tasting at the same time. Fortunately, it is not as
complicated as it sounds; a simple diagonal tasting entails
selecting a couple of wineries and tasting wines of
A great diagonal would pit a California wine against a
Bordeaux. Serve the wines blind (covering up the labels, so
that nobody is swayed by the names or where the wine is
from) and, if possible, incorporate three vintages to show
how the wines taste young, fully mature, and somewhere in
Fountain and Saber Cutting Party
The Champagne Fountain is an eye-catching and extravagant
way to get a party started. It does, however, take a little
doing to build a pyramid of Champagne coupes. (That's
coupes, not flutes; you'll definitively need to use those
out-of-date Marie Antoinette-style wide-mouthed coupes, as
modern flutes are too narrow for pyramid building.)
The idea is that you pour the bubbly into the top layer
of glasses, and as the wine spills over it is caught in the
glasses below. (Don't stack the glasses on a bare Louis XIV
buffet; there's a good chance that some of the bubbly won't
land in the glasses. and you need a surface that can be
cleaned easily when the party is over.)
As for the saber, that's used to open the bottles with
flourish. A well-placed cut will lift the neck cleanly off
the Champagne bottle, making pouring a snap. All you need is
a saber, and they're available in good wine stores or via
mail order. (If you haven't been out dueling lately and your
saber skills are rusty, you might want to practice a few
times before the party.
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How To Create A Wine Tasting Score Card
If you're planning to host a wine tasting, whether as a home
party, or for a restaurant staff or some sort of event,
you'll want to give out some sort of ...
Robin Garr's Wine Lover's Page - Food and Wine Matching
Engine - Another really useful site... Pick the food from an
A-Z list, click...and you'll be taken to a page where you
can get wine suggestions to match ...
UC Davis Wine Scoring
The University of California at Davis 20 Point Scale System
Organoleptic Evaluation Scoring Guide For Wine The Davis
system was developed by Dr. Maynard A. ...
If you look at
Steve de Long's site, as originally directed by Dr Ed,
you will see a brief summary of various scoring methods.
eRobertParker.com: Robert Parker's Rating System
In terms of awarding points, my scoring system gives every
wine a base of 50 points. The wine's general color and
appearance merit up to 5 points. ...
Scoring enables new, good, wine producers to make a name for
themselves and .... system popularized by Michael Broadbent
in his Great Vintage Wine Book. ...
Wine Tasting Score Card, How to Do a Wine Tasting
Wine Tasting Score Cards, How to do a Wine Tasting, wine
tasting cards, blind wine tasting, double blind wine tasting
Three Tiered Chandelier Gold Each
Hanging Accordion Ball Gold Dozen
Unimprinted Bursting Bubbles Vase Clear Each
Pothos Garland Green Each
Enchanted Rose Tree Each