Monday, December 3, 2012

How to Host a Wine Tasting Party

The days, of course, are getting shorter here in the Russian River Valley, but they’re also getting busier as the holiday season approaches. It’s that time of year when people are readying cellars and making sure there’s plenty of wine on hand for end-of-year festivities, so the buzz is building.
One of the best new holiday traditions we’re seeing out there is the wine tasting party. Tasting parties spark conversation, so they’re a great way to add new interest to holiday gatherings. Tasting parties also lead to new wine discoveries, giving your guests a reason to remember you fondly each time they enjoy a new favorite. 

We especially love how easy it is to host a tasting party. Just ask friends and family to bring a bottle of wine, then slip each bottle into a numbered, velvet bag. Having six to eight different wines will keep things focused yet engaging. Smaller pours will ensure guests get a chance to taste all the selections.
You can focus on particular varietal such as Pinot Noir or Chardonnay for your tasting party, but it's also very festive to have a wide variety of wines, in which case you'll want to start the tasting with sparkling wines, followed by white, red, and dessert. Younger wines tend to have bigger, bolder flavors that can desensitize the palate to the nuances of older vintages, so within each category, start with older wines first.
Of course, you'll want to provide your guests with scoring and comment cards so an overall winner can be declared at the end and it's a nice touch to offer a prize to the person who brings that bottle. Another nice touch is to provide some plain crackers and a carafe of water, so guests can cleanse their palates between rounds of tasting.
Speaking of parties, J's wine collections are an easy way to get one started. Our Holiday Wine Collection is a great choice for this time of year. So is our Party in a Box collection and Bubble Love is a perennial favorite, too.