wine tasting party

Host a Wine Tasting Party: By Jen Oliak

Are you looking for an interesting theme for hosting a dinner party with friends? Try a wine tasting party! Dave and I attended one recently and it was so much fun.  If people don’t know each other well, a wine tasting party is a good topic-based gathering with a common subject to talk about throughout the evening.

The hosts invited 10 couples which I thought was an appropriate number of people for this type of event.  Had there been many more guests, some intimacy and focus on wine may have been lost.

Wine Tasting Party

The hosts asked each couple to bring a bottle of disguised wine along with descriptive notes.  Each bottle was placed in a burlap wine holder and identified with a number from 1-10.  Each person was given a “wine card” to write notes after tasting.

Wine Tasting Party

This card is from one of my friends who is not a wine drinker. She prefers Vodka Martinis. Her comments are so funny!

After each tasting, we were asked to describe our thoughts about the wine:

  • What is the varietal? Is it merlot, cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, etc?
  • Fruit level:  Is it fruity like berries or is it savory?
  • Sweetness: Is it dry or sweet?
  • Body:  Is it light bodied (crisp, delicate, subtle) or full bodied (bold, concentrated, buttery)?
  • Finish:  Is it smooth, spicy or bitter?
  • Region:  France, Italy, California (Napa, Sonoma, etc)?
  • Rating:  1-10?

To cleanse the palate, we ate crackers in between tastings.  Well I had crackers and cheese and fruit and …!  This may have affected my taste buds a bit.

There was also a container to empty your wine glass if you didn’t want to finish the tasting choice. No one really did that though, as that would be wasting good wine! It was fun to talk about each selection together as we went along.  

I loved how there was a variety of knowledge about wine among the group.  A few couples were wine connoisseurs who collect.  A few rarely drink wine so they didn’t know much at all  (Dave and I were in this category.) The rest were people who enjoy wine and have basic knowledge of its characteristics.

Wine Tasting Party

After the tasting, we scored our wine cards based on how many characteristics we got right.  Each couple read their notes aloud about the wine they brought.  As a group we discussed how much we liked or disliked the particular wine.  At the end, the person with the highest score received a prize! The hosts gave away a set of fun plastic wine glasses.

Wine Tasting Party

The following is the list of wines guests brought to the party based on high ratings and preferences. Bevmo and Total Wine are great places to find a large selection of wines.

  1. Papapietro Perry 2006: pinot noir, Anderson Valley, CA $60
  2. Dunn Vineyards 1997: cabernet sauvignon, Napa Valley, CA $100 Big spender!
  3. Chappellet 2013: cabernet sauvignon, Napa Valley, CA $60
  4. Vellum 2012: cabernet sauvignon, Napa Valley, CA $85 Another big spender! Geez!
  5. Artemis Stags Leap 2013: cabernet sauvignon, Napa Valley,CA $50
  6. Affinity 2013: cabernet sauvignon, Napa Valley, CA $50
  7. Villa Borghetti Valpolicella 2013: ripasso, Villa Superiore, Italy $18
  8. Wonderwall 2014: pinot noir, Edna Valley, CA $20
  9. Miraval Rosé 2014: rosé Provence, France $25  This is Dave and me!  Haha!
  10. F France 2011table wine $20

The takeaways from our wine tasting party group were that price did not necessarily indicate the preference.  Also, there were varied opinions on each wine.  What one person rated a 10, another rated a 1.

The hosts thought this wine tasting party would have been better if they had chosen the wines and delegated to the guests to bring.  This would have allowed for more of a variety, including white wine.

Dave and I would have loved the note cards to be multiple choice instead of blank slated since we had no idea how to express what we were tasting!

Have you been to a wine tasting party?  Will you consider throwing a wine tasting get-together?  What tips do you have to add?  What is YOUR favorite wine?

Flavor Your Life with an Ounce of Salt. A lifestyle blog by Jen Oliak