Hosting a wine tasting party is an excellent way to gather fellow wine enthusiast friends and exercise your palette. Wine tastings are very versatile and can range from simple and casual to an elaborate tasting. Either way hosting a wine tasting party is fun and informative and a perfect reason to gather a few friends for an evening of entertaining. Below are some tips to get you started with a blind tasting.
If you are throwing your first wine tasting party your best bet is with a blind tasting. This way you can familiarize yourself with what a tasting consists of without having to worry about themes and food and wine pairings, which make throwing a wine tasting a little more involved. A blind tasting basically consists of concealing the wine's identity. In other words, no one knows which wine they are tasting. The reason for a blind tasting is simply to rely on your senses without any other outside information that could potentially influence your judgement of the wine. This is a great way to learn to trust your own taste and educate yourself on your likes and dislikes.
An important factor in hosting a wine tasting is obviously ensuring there is enough wine for everyone and the math in this regard is rather straight forward. Plan to serve 2 ounce samples of each wine. So if you have 12 guests you will need 1 bottle per person. However, it never hurts to have a little extra, for emergency purposes. Which brings up the question of how many wines should be sampled. For a blind tasting between four and six is usually a good number.
Beyond the wine itself it's a good idea to provide a tasting sheet for each guest. This sheet will be a resource for each guest to write down their experiences with each wine including any comments they may have, ranking the wine and to generate a dialogue amongst the group. And although one guest may be more informative of wine than another, this is an excellent time to learn from eachother in discussion.
To spit or not to spit, that is the question and the answer is generally yes. Although it's perfectly acceptable to sip the wine, you will want to keep a clear head during the tasting in order for your senses to be in top form. So it's important to provide a spit bucket. A small plastic cup for each guest is suitable for this purpose.
As for food it's best to stick to bread and water. At least until after the actual tasting. They will act as effective palette cleansers in between each tasting without interfering with the senses. It's also important to note that strong odours such as scented candles or intensely perfumed flowers should be avoided for the same reason. After the tasting is completed though, it's thoughtful to have a few appetizers to offer your guests.
Finally, don't feel the need to go it alone. Before the tasting ask your guests for their input and ideas on what they would enjoy. They'll likely be happy to get involved and help and in fact you may find that each of your guests would like to bring their own bottle. That, of course, is something you will want to know ahead of time. Wine tastings should be festive and fun affairs and should never be overwhelming or intimidating. This is where a little planning goes a long way.