Welcome to the second installment of how to Host A Wine Tasting Party! Now that we have covered the premise behind and invite to your wine tasting event, I would like to share with you some of the ways to add creative touches to your event.
THE TASTING GLASSES
The tasting glasses are one of the most important components of this event as they will be your guests' accessory for the entire evening. If hosting a more casual event, small plastic cups work great and allow for easy cleanup. As my husband and I intend to make this party an annual affair, we purchased small wine tasting glasses from Crate & Barrel during one of their 20% off tabletop sales. Crate & Barrel sells Stemless Wine Taster Glasses for $1.50 each or $14.95 for a set of twelve ($3.05 savings plus more if using a coupon). When visiting the store, we worried that the taster glasses were too small, primarily for men, given the size of the opening. Thus, we elected to buy the Stemless White Wine Glasses form the same collection that were just a tad bigger.
Whatever route you take for your tasting glasses, find a fun way for guests to mark their glasses in order to keep track of them throughout the evening. There are many fun ways to differentiate glasses including:
- Wine glass writers
- Wine charms
- Stickers or labels
We by chance came across these adorable Wine ChitChat Drink Markers that were gifted to us as part of a wine themed wedding gift. These static cling stickers allow for easy removal and are a great way for your guests to be creative and identify and introduce themselves in a memorable way. These were a hit!
THE WINE SATCHELS
Elevate your wine tasting party by finding a great way to display the center of attention of the event - the wines! There are numerous creators of cute burlap wine satchels on Etsy and other craft sites, however, they tend to be somewhat expensive given the number of wine satchels you may need. Luckily, it is easy to craft your own!
Visit your local grocery store and kindly ask if you can borrow a few extra paper bag wine sleeves. Find labels, stencils and a beautiful ribbon at your local craft store to decorate the brown paper bag as desired. By using paper bags, you will also be less upset if your wine leaks all over purchased wine satchels as these can be easily discarded.
THE WINE TASTING ESSENTIALS
You have the guests, you have the tasting glasses and you have the wine. There are a few other things that are beneficial to have in order to execute a successful wine tasting party.
- Dump Bucket - The dump bucket serves two purposes. First, the dump bucket allows for guests to dump any wine that may not be to their liking or if you have designated drivers that are solely tasting and choosing not to swallow the wine. Second, the dump bucket allows for your guests to rinse their glasses with water in between shifts in wines. A large mason jar serves as an attractive yet functional dump bucket as you can easily close the jar when transporting the discarded wine to the kitchen thus mitigating risk of spilling.
- Oyster Crackers or Wine Tasting Crackers - These crackers serve to cleanse the palate between wines and enhance subtle flavors in different wine varieties.
- Water - Again, the availability of water serves to purposes. First, water allows your guests an opportunity to re-hydrate between wines. Second, water allows your guests to cleanse their glasses throughout the evening.
- Ballot Box - Use a ice bucket or wine chiller to serve as your ballot box for guests to cast their votes at the end of the evening. We used this beautiful Antique Silver Wine Chiller from Pottery Barn gifted to use by my parents for our first wedding anniversary to collect our votes.
THE HOST WINE
As hosts, you are more then welcome to enter the competition. My husband and I, however, elected to let our guests be the primary focus and chose not to enter wines into our own tasting. As an alternative, we provided what we deemed to be our "House Wine" served in our Rojaus Grapevine Decanter featured at Coopers Hawk Winery Restaurants. This decanter was gifted to us in remembrance of our wedding rehearsal dinner which was hosted at a Coopers Hawk Winery Wine Cellar. This decanter is not only functional in aerating and serving wine, but it is also a statement piece when entertaining. We served our House Wine while guests arrived prior to our initiation of the wine tasting. We also loved the opportunity to differentiate our House Wine display with our Wine Cork Monogrammed "L" gifted to us by my sister-in-law.
Carry on the theme of the party all the way through the music playing in the background. Intermix your normal playlist with some of these wine themed songs:
- I Heard It Through the Grapevine - Marvin Gaye
- Dust On the Bottle - David Lee Murphy
- Red Red Wine - UB40
- Message in a Bottle - The Police
- Tin Cup Chalice - Jimmy Buffett
- Champagne Super Nova - Oasis
- Strawberry Wine - Deana Carter
- Wine, Women an' Song - Whitesnake
- White Lightning and Wine - Heart
- Drinking Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee - Jerry Lee Lewis
- Since You Brought It Up - James Otto
- Come Share the Wine - Bing Crosby
- Elderberry Wine - Elton John
- A Steel Guitar and a Glass of Wine - Paul Anka
- He Turned Water Into Wine - Johnny Cash
While these may not be the normal artists on your playlists, their songs are almost guaranteed to bring laughter to the event.
In order to assist your guests throughout the tasting, provide them with some useful handouts. Consider having available the following aids:
Wine Tasting Scorecard and Notepad - allows your guests to take take notes as they proceed through the wine tastings to identify and remember favorites and least favorites
- Wine Tasting Notes - assists your guests in identifying the different attributes of wine varieties based on common flavors and scents
- Wine Tasting Ballot - helps you as the host determine the winning wines
Below are the printouts that my husband created for our tasting party to serve as inspiration.
Bring all of these components together and you are almost ready for your event.
Visit again Friday for Host a Wine Tasting Party: Part III featuring the wines and foods to serve at your wine tasting party!