Recently, Jason and I hosted a wine tasting party for our close friends and family. We like to put these on once or twice a year. It’s a great way to get together with friends in a low key environment, and it gives everyone the opportunity to discover varietals of wine they may have never tried before. It’s also fun seeing people have “ah-hah” moments as they pair hors d’oeuvres with wine. Plus it gives me the opportunity to eat cheese… ALL THE CHEESE… need I say more?
Wine tasting parties can be as intricate or as simple as you want them to be; there’s no right or wrong way.
I’m here to give you an in depth look at how I put together my annual wine tasting party. I hope it inspires you to host one of your own.
Let’s get started!
The most important thing at your wine party is… The WINE!
You don’t want to buy really expensive wine or too many bottles. I typically chose 4 or 5 varieties in the ‘average price’ range, purchasing two bottles of each. I keep the bottles in the wine fridge until just before the party starts. Room temp white wine is pretty lame – it needs to be CHILLED!
To the left I set out large and small wine glasses that already had wine markers on them.
I did a blind tasting the simplest way I could. I hid the labels behind brown paper and Jason used his sweet calligraphy skills to number the bottles in order of sweetest white to driest red, bottle #1 being the sweetest.
As people arrived I explained the order of the wines. This gave everyone a chance to blindly sample the wines but, if needed, also stay in their “wine comfort zone.” If someone liked a particular bottle, I told them what it was. The experienced wine drinker might even be able to guess the varietal they’re drinking.
Some people were pleasantly surprised to find out they liked Pinot Noir more than Merlot, or even preferred Sauvignon Blanc to the Chardonnay. The point of blind tasting is to Keep An Open Mind! 🙂
What’s the second most important thing at your party? The FOOD! I’m SUCH A FOODIE!
I made special hors d’ouevres in addition to a large spread on the kitchen peninsula. Everything was “finger food” meaning I didn’t have to break out the fine china or figure out seating for 20 hungry adults. I simply put out a stack of small plastic plates and mini forks. That was it. People were able to grab-and-go… standing around chit-chatting while snacking on their little plates of finger food. Perfect!
One of my favs!
Super easy to make!
Goat cheese goes great with any wine!
Goat cheese for the win!
The third most important thing to have at your wine party – Non-alcoholic beverages.
I had a ‘featured drink’ right next to the wine bottles: Limonada Fresca.
How to: 2/3 Simply Lemonade (chilled) + 1/3 S.Pellegrino Sparkling Mineral Water with fresh lemon wedges as garnish.
And right next to the Limonada was my water dispenser with a stack of plastic cups.
The fourth most important thing at your party. CHEESE LOUISE, IT’S THE CHEESE!
Fancy cheeses and Not-So-Fancy cheeses! I like to buy a few expensive wedges, and a few cheap. Example: I had raclette with an edible rind, smoked gouda, herbed goat cheese, and Merlot BellaVitano sitting right next to Sharp White Cheddar and Colby jack.
It’s called balance people! 🙂
Now for the miscellaneous.
To create the spread I taped brown paper onto my countertop. This is actually packing paper and can be found at Home Depot. Then I placed a large Floral Bouquet in the center. Next I added a strand of fairy lights to give ambiance. You can see the appetizer plates and tiny gold forks on the far end. I also made cute little “chalkboard” signs for some of the food. And after everything was plated and in it’s permanent spot, I used a sharpie and wrote the name of the food on the brown paper.
Parmesan Garlic Olive Oil with Tuscan Herbs and chunks of Italian bread for dipping.
^^^THIS IS THE CHEAPEST TO MAKE^^^ $2.00 for the loaf of bread which we broke into pieces, and then to the plate I added olive oil, Parmesan cheese, minced garlic, Tuscan herbs and sea salt. That’s it!
Blue cheese stuffed olives, premium chocolate and strawberry jalapeño jam. I placed grapes in random places too. Madagascar vanilla honey almonds are in the blue bowl. Sleeves of crackers everywhere. It’s a very eclectic look – again there’s no right or wrong way to put the spread together.
The candy in the background is Toffifay – little caramel|chocolate|hazelnut treats that are to die for!
Jason picked out the meats. He chose prosciutto, hot capicola, peppered salami, dry aged salami and old world pancetta.
The hot capicola was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! We hoarded a package to ourselves and ate it the next day! 😀
Random serving dishes, cheese boards and plates.
Said crackers all over the place. 🙂
Baked brie how to:
On a cookie sheet, roll out a can of Pillsbury crescent roll dough. Place the wheel of brie on the sheet of dough. Slather the top of the brie with jam. Now wrap it up with the remaining dough and bake at 350* for 15-20 minutes (until the dough is golden brown) – serve with crackers.
The decorations were VERY minimal. I put vases of fresh flowers around the house. I had a few strands of fairy lights on the countertops and I lit candles all over the place.
A balloon garland strung across the mirror when you first enter that said “Cheers”.
And a felt letter-board sign on the buffet where we had the wine setup.
Home grown beauties! ❤
I featured a wine cork guessing game to keep people engaged. 🙂
The prize? More wine! Shocker!!
Some of my best friends on the planet!
Is that Metallica playing in the background?! Awesome!
We started with wine and hors d’oeuvres. Then we were on the back patio by the fire of the chiminea. Lastly, we wound up going all out with a bonfire in the field (not the first time that’s happened!). LOL!
I look forward to doing this party every year because it’s so much fun to setup and host, and my friends really enjoy it too. I hope I gave YOU the inspiration to host a wine party of your own.
(There’s hyperlinks all over the post if you need recipes, game instructions, etc.)