A wine tasting party is a great way to gather friends together for an evening of casual, laidback fun. We spoke with Janet Nastamagu, Product Consultant at the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO), for some great tips on how to throw a wine tasting party that’s as enlightening as it is entertaining. Santé!
What you’ll need
Nastamagu has provided a checklist of essential items:
– ISO wine tasting glasses
These glasses are rounded and curve slightly at the top to help condense the aromas of the wine.
– Six to eight different types of wine
As a gauge, one 750mL (26 oz.) bottle yields approximately 13 2-ounce samples (two ounces is the recommended sample size). To defray the costs, suggest that each guest be responsible for bringing one bottle each.
– Unsalted crackers and water (to help cleanse the palate after each sample)
These are receptacles for guests to spit their wine into after tasting each sample. (If you cannot find spittoons, any type of receptacle such as a bowl or plastic container will do).
Suggested wine themes
If you’ve requested each guest to bring a bottle, be sure to let them know the chosen theme or, as the host, you may even want to make a list of six to eight different wines in advance and ask each guest to pick a specific one from the list. Nastamagu recommends having a central, specific theme for your wine tasting in order to compare wines of a similar type. “Try sampling the same grape from different countries or different grapes from the same region.” Other themes Nastamagu suggests are “warm versus cold climate, for example, Ontario wines versus California wines, new world versus old world, the same wine but different vintages, or the same group of wines but from different producers.”
How to taste the wines
“There are four key things to make note of when sampling a wine,” says Nastamagu. “What you want to do is assess the fruit—is it fresh, dried, black or white? You’ll also want to make note of the acidity, which is indicated by the watering of your mouth and tongue when acid is present.” The tannin and body of the wine are the other two qualities to pay attention to during the tasting. “The tannin of the wine refers to the drying sensation you taste and the wine’s body is indicated by the weight of the wine on your palate,” explains Nastamagu.
So how do you know that you’re properly tasting and assessing the wines? Firstly, be sure to spit all wine samples out. “This helps you to have clear judgement of each wine you’re tasting,” says Nastamagu. “And as your spitting out, breathe in through your nose so the flavours continue to linger on your palate.”
Click here to print a wine comparison chart for each of your guests. This handy chart will help your guests to keep track of each wine they’ve sampled, and they can then take it home with them as a reference for future purchases.
Extra wine-tasting tips
– Don’t sample more than six to eight glasses of wine per person as any more than this amount would tire the palate and you’ll lose focus.
– If it’s a blind tasting, number the glasses and the bottles at the bottom of each glass or bottle.
– Ask guests to avoid wearing perfume or scented deodorant so as to not overpower the aromas of the wine.
– Host the event in an area that has natural light. This will allow the true colour of the wine to show. If this is not possible or your party is in the evening, an alternative is to put a piece of white paper against the wine glass to clearly view the colour.
– To determine the age of a wine, note its colour along the rim; the lighter the colour of the wine, the younger it is.
– Be a socially responsible host. Since this is an event that will involve most, if not all, of your guests consuming alcohol, be sure to have cash available for taxi or public transit fare.