Hosting your own wine tasting party can be a fun affair. At Harry’s Wine & Spirits we host our own monthly wine tastings, so we know what it takes to do a proper wine tasting. In case you can’t make it to our monthly wine tasting, we can give you tips, so you can host your own.

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#1. Theme

Figure out a theme that you want to use so your home wine tasting party can have a central idea. When we say theme, we’re not talking about a toga party, we’re actually talking about the wine. Maybe you want to do domestic wines or particular regions or even just vintage wines. Doing a specific theme will also help figure out what type of food or snacks that you can pair with the specific selection of wine that you’re offering.

#2. Serve the Wine Accordingly

So you’ve chosen the theme that you want to go with. Now you need to consider the order of the wine that you serve. Technically, depending on your theme, you may not need to do this, for example if you’ve decided to stick to a particular type of wine, like Chardonnay from a variety of places, Australia, Spain, Italy, and of course America, than the drinking order is up to you. But if you’re drinking a mixture of wines (mixing between red and white for example), then you may want to consider doing light wine first, leading up to darker wines.

#3. Have the Right Items

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If you’re thinking wine is all you need, you’re wrong. A true host will want to give an authentic wine tasting experience (like the kind we give at Harry’s). Otherwise you’re really just inviting friends and family over to drink wine, which you can do on any occasion. We want this to be an actual home wine tasting experience. Below is a list of items you’ll need.

1. Wine: Duh!
2. Wine glasses: This seems like an obvious item to have but consider the number of people that you’re inviting and remind yourself whether or not you have enough wine glasses for everyone in attendance.
3. Snacks: We’ll get more in depth about these because we have some specific suggestions.
4. Water: So people can clean their palates as well as make sure that they keep from being dehydrated.
5. Notebook: Some of your guests will want to keep track of the differences between the wine as well as the actual wine that they’re drinking so that they can go home with a note of the ones they’d like to buy in the future.

#4. Food

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This is so important for hosting a wine tasting party that is perfect! As we all know when pairing wine with our dinner, having the right, complementary food can really enhance your wine selection. It’s customary to have bread or plain crackers on handy for people to snack on but they didn’t travel all the way to your home just to starve will wine soaks up their bodies. Better Home & Garden created an amazing menu to pair with wines. Their menu includes items like cocktail meatballs and grilled vegetables (to complement reds), and cheeses, fruit, and a smoked trout spread (for the whites).

Kitchn also has a really great list of small bites for a wine party which includes, brushcetta, baked ricotta with lemon, garlic, and chives, grilled stuffed mushrooms, fig and olive tapenade for blue cheese, and puff pastry cheese straws. Wine tasting at home is a better experience for your guests when you have the correct food. So check out these two links, because they should give you ideas for the types of food that you can have available at your at home wine tasting gathering.

#5. Taste the Wine

Now at proper wine tastings the employee will give you the basics on how to actually taste the wine. Look, Swirl, Sip, and Savor are the four steps to wine tasting, and for your guests they may not actually know that wine tasting is a refined process. Better Book TV does a really good video of how to taste wine like a pro on YouTube.

• Look: Examining the color of the wine can help you look for saturated colors. There are ways to detect whether or not the wine is aging too quickly or is showing signs of oxidation.
• Swirl: Release the aromas of wine and let your nose breathe in the aromas. Here you’re looking to figure out what you smell.
• Sip: Make sure you and your guests sip enough to swish it around in your mouth. A sip too small might not catch the flavor.
• Savor: Gargle the wine lightly in your mouth. You’ll be using your awakened taste buds to see if the wine is complex, balanced, and harmonious.

Things to Remember

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Keep in mind the temperature of wine that you have. There’s nothing worse than storing wine at the wrong temperature, thus spoiling the flavorful taste for your guests. Chill dry white wines to between 50 and 55 degrees, while reds should be between 60 and 65 degrees. The flavors and aromas of white wines can be stunted in refrigerator temperature and reds served too warm can actually be dulled by their alcohol. For a larger group of people keep in mind that a few bottle openers will make the experience an easier one, so you don’t have to go searching around for the one that someone “put down, over there, somewhere.” The last thing you need to remember is to have fun. As a host it’s easy to get caught up at one of your wine tasting parties, worrying about everyone else.