Wine Tasting Party Tips


Follow these steps not only to pick the right wines but to help everyone remember what they liked and why.

Crises–emotional, economic, existential–often spur a good night on the town, and the current global crisis is no different. Then again, since it’s an economic crisis, maybe just a glass of wine. Or two. Well, that could be R200 or more. Plus tip.

Perhaps a wine tasting party at home is a better idea. And if the desired atmosphere is for guests to learn a thing or two about different wine varieties and styles, develop their palates and discover their personal likes and dislikes, a little thought needs to go into the planning.

Fortunately, the first rule is the easiest: Begin with bubbly (and it doesn’t have to be Champagne).

Sparkling wine is the perfect kick-off to a party because it allows the guests to start sipping–and loosen up–before the formal “tasting.” To keep costs down, look for the new Douglas Green Sparkling Wine range. It is in the R30 -R40 range..

After the bubbly is when the planning comes into play.

Choose a Theme

It’s easiest to organize a wine tasting party if there’s a theme.. A sensible theme also gives your local wine shop a guiding principle for the wine recommendations.

For example. Try a South African wine region theme. Try Merlots form Stellenbosch, Paarl, Breede Rivier, etc. Keep the price range the same and caopare the best value for money wine.

Or try a relatively new wine style like Pinotage Rosé wines. Buy a few different brands of this style and compare. Rosé wine consumption are growing globally and this wine style are probably the global “flavour of the month”

Pick the Pairings

If you’re serving several different types of wine, make sure there’s plenty of food to go with them all lest the party go downhill a bit too quickly rather than build to a crescendo. When you buy the wines, ask the experts at the shop for food-pairing recommendations based on each, then head to a cheese shop or gourmet food store.

Just remember, pairings don’t have to be complicated. By and large, no one will leave a wine tasting hungry–or completely disoriented–if you have a few baguettes (preferably warmed at 180 degrees (celsius) for five to 10 minutes before the tasting), ample and varied cheeses, hard salami, olives and nuts (marcona almonds work well) for guests to munch on.

Last but not least, take the time to type a wine list for the event, writing the wine name, a tasting note and the story behind each winery. Then print a copy for each guest. A wine list gives everyone something to read and think about while tasting the wines. Adding a line asking guests to rate the wines as they taste them is a great way to keep people engaged throughout the evening–and thinking more about their own preferences.

If writing notes and keeping track of ratings is too formal for your liking, a wine tasting party is, at the very least, a casual yet elegant way to catch up with friends. How “serious” or educational you make the party is up to you and your guests. The more frequently the group gathers and tastes, though, the more interesting and fun the tastings will get, whether they span regions, vintages or both.



~ by tallhorsewines on February 20, 2009.

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