Drinking good wine with good friends is one of life's greatest pleasures. If you love to entertain, but hesitate at the work and expense of hosting a dinner party, try a wine-tasting party for your next get-together. With just a few glasses, some bottles of wine, and perhaps a snack or two, you've got the makings of a memorable night. Here are our favorite tips for hosting a successful wine-tasting party:
- Start by choosing a theme. Try tasting all wines from Tuscany, or comparing Cabernet Sauvignons from different parts of the world.
- When shopping for the wines you'll taste, look for a wine merchant that displays staff tasting notes, or hosts tastings itself--both good indications that the employees are knowledgeable wine enthusiasts who can make good recommendations.
- Limit your tasting to five or six wines. More will overwhelm the palate.
- Keep it simple by providing one Bordeaux glass for each guest to use for the whole tasting.
- Cover the table with white tablecloth--it's the best background against which to judge the wine color.
- Traditionally, a tasting pour is two ounces. A standard-size bottle will provide a taste for eight to 10 guests.
- Make sure to provide a bucket into which guests can to dump unwanted wine.
- A good rule of thumb: put reds in the refrigerator 15 to 30 minutes before guests arrive. Take whites out of the refrigerator a few minutes before you pour them to take the chill off.
- To help your guests cleanse their palate between tastings, set out bread and water. In case they want a little something more to nibble on, serve a few snacks, too. A few ideas: a plate of olives, a charcuterie board, a few cheeses, a selection of crostini.
- Work from dry to sweet white wines, and from light to heavy reds. It's also best to start with younger wines and progress to more mature ones.
- Make a tasting card (or print out this one from Epicurious.com) that lists the type of wine, the year, the vineyard that made it, and a brief description of the wine's attributes. Or keep the cards blank and put each wine in a bag (or cover it with foil) to create a blind wine tasting.
- Serve a popular wine from the tasting to guests who want to linger afterwards.
Do you have any tips for hosting a great wine-tasting that we forgot to mention? Let us know in the comments!