Hey we get it, wine can seem very confusing. But wine is also fun. It’s complex, vibrant and meaningful. It’s a wonderful part of my life. I often have friends who say to me, “I know what I like, I know what I don’t like, but that’s all. Quite frankly that really is all you need to know, but once you start to understand a little bit more about the flavours and textures behind the wines, it can open a whole new world of wonder and discovery and it really can be lots of fun!
One of the best ways to learn about wine is to taste lots of different kinds of wines from all over the world. We are not suggesting that you do this all at once! But here is an idea, how about you host a wine tasting party at home. Hosting a wine tasting is also a great reason to catch up with friends and together to learn more about different wines. So here are a few tips to get you started:
Some basic steps to get ready:
- It’s quite a good idea to pick a theme for the night, so it could be a varietal like Rosé wines, or a region, like Central Otago or if you want to be adventurous, you could theme it by country.
- When you invite people, suggest that each person bring their favorite wine from whatever theme you choose. Sharing is caring and helps the budget.
- Be sure to chill any white wines. Reds are best at room temperature. It is easiest to get the full flavors and aromas from white wines when they are chilled to about 55 degrees. If the wine is much colder than this, the temperature and the chill on your mouth may interfere with how you taste the wine. If you forget, seriously just pop them in the freezer for 10 mins and they will be just fine!
- Use clear wineglasses. This will allow guests to see the wine clearly, so they can compare color and clarity. Glasses can easily be rinsed with water but avoid using dish soap when rinsing between tasting, as the soap residue can interfere with the taste of the wines.
- If you want to get really adventurous, you can choose to taste the wines blindly. This doesn’t mean you are blindfolded, simply that you don’t know what the wine is. An easy way to do this is to cover each wine bottle in a brown paper bag and number each bottle. You may be quite surprised about which wine ends up being your favorite!
- To prevent wine tastes from overpowering one another, a general rule of thumb is that whites should be tasted before reds, and lighter wines should be tasted before full-bodied wines.
Now to the fun part!
Most important of all is relax! It’s not a test, this is about having fun! This is about expanding your wine world and the excitement of discovery.
- Start by using your nose. Swirl the wine in your glass. This mixes air with the wine and brings out more aromas and flavours. If you want to know how to swirl a glass of wine perfectly, here’s a quick video from our favourite wine blogger Madeleine at Wine Folly, which will show you how to get it just right!
- Now genuinely stick your nose in the glass. I mean really get down in the glass. Breath in deeply. What do you smell? There are no right or wrong answers. Close your eyes. Really think about what the smell of the wine reminds you of. See who can be the most creative.
- Next you use your tongue. Take a sip and roll the wine all around on your tongue for a bit before swallowing. Sip again. Sip again. Think about the flavours in the wine. Do you detect flavors you’re familiar with like grapefruits or lemons, raspberries or cherries? Are there certain characteristics in the wine that are hard to name but easy to express in creative terms. The point is to learn more about the wines you love, discover what you like, and have lots of fun with the girls along the way.
Remember, there are no rules. Some guests may enjoy recording notes on the wines they taste. In fact if that’s your thing, there are some really great wine apps available to keep a record of the wine you taste and enjoy. Vivino is one of them. You can scan your wine, get reviews and recommendations, compare pricing and write your own reviews.
Most of your guests will probably just want to sip, swirl and chat their way through the evening and that is absolutely fine too. This is about enjoyment and togetherness, so everyone should do just as they wish.
If you want to learn more about the finer points of tasting wine, then Wine Folly has a great poster you can buy for USD$24, which is a great basic guide to wine.
Be a responsible hostess though and be sure to make arrangements for taxis as and when needed or have designated drivers. It’s far too easy to lose track of the amount you drink when you are at a wine tasting party. Also, make sure to serve plenty of water in addition to the wine. It’s easy to become dehydrated.
So there you go, our tips for hosting a wine tasting party. Lucky for you, we have some great tasting packs available for you to choose from, that can be shipped straight to your door. Check out a few of them here and let us know what you and your guests think of our delicious wines.