If you know me at all, then you know I love to throw a good party. My house was designed with entertaining in mind and I’ve been able to make so many fun memories with friends and family over the past couple years.
A few weekends ago I had some friends and family visiting from out of town, and thought it would be the perfect opportunity to gather everyone together for a blind wine tasting. Here’s a video of how I prepared for the party.
Choose a party theme
Having just returned from Napa the weekend before, I visualized a rustic, old world type setting and used lots of neutral, rich colors, and natural materials like wood, stone and jute to pull it all together.
The premise of the evening was to blindly taste six different wines, give each one a rating and guess the varietal, and reveal each bottle at the end. The winner of the game received a small prize to make the stakes higher.
Print wine scorecard sheets
I found a couple printable wine scorecard sheets on Pinterest but none of them quite suited my needs, so I whipped up my own instead, along with simple wine bottle tags (download the PDF at the bottom of this post!)
Choose your wine
You can either ask guests to bring a bottle of wine, or provide them yourself. I opted to buy them all before the party, and chose six different varietals of red. The bottles were placed in jute bags tied with twine, and displayed on a scrap of wood I found in the garage.
Add personal touches
To keep track of wine glasses, I picked up an inexpensive plain set, spray painted the bottoms with chalkboard paint (found at Lowe’s), and wrote the guests names in chalk:
Prepare a variety of snacks
Provide a wide range of small bites that pair well with wine. Bread, crackers, meats, veggies, olives, sweets, nuts and my favorite—cheese:
A charcuterie board (or two) is always a good idea.
The guests arrived, music turned up, bottles popped and the sun began to set…
Even the self proclaimed wine connoisseurs had a difficult time identifying the different types of wine.
After a few glasses, some peoples’ answers started getting weird…
The highlight of the night? Reading everyone’s ratings and descriptions aloud as each wine was revealed. It helps if you get creative with your scorecard 😉
My personal favorite turned out to be a Tempranillo, but wine that scored the highest was this 2014 merlot from Grandfather Clock…
By the end of the night, we all left with a new favorite wine and stories to remember. It turned out to be one of my favorite gatherings, and even more special to me because it’s one of the last at this home!
If you’re thinking about hosting a dinner party or small celebration soon, I highly recommend a wine tasting party. It was even more fun than expected (good company and wine go a long way!) and it doesn’t require elaborate planning, supplies or decorations.
You can start with these free PDF printables—click on the image to download them:
You may find you already have most of the supplies needed at home, but here’s a list of items that will help you set the perfect table:
Wine Tasting Party Supplies
Frequently Asked Questions
This is ultimately up to you, but consider how many guests you’ll have and if you’d like them to contribute a bottle for the tasting. I found that six bottles was just right for our group of nine, but I’ve also been to larger parties with 12+ rounds of tasting. Those lasted more than a few hours but they were just as fun!
If you know the individual preferences within your group, I’d start there. Otherwise, I would only introduce multiple types of wine if you have more than one bottle of each to compare. Sticking to red only will allow you to concentrate more on the subtle differences of each variety, and develop your wine connoisseur skills.
Remember the five S’s: See, Swirl, Sniff, Sip Savor. Check out this helpful article on Wine Enthusiast.
Aside from the wine and snacks, make sure there is plenty of water on hand for guests to stay hydrated and cleanse their palette. A bucket will also be required for guests to pour or spit out any unwanted wine while tasting. Don’t forget scoresheets and pens/pencils for everyone. Lastly: music! A great soundtrack is key to set the mood for any party.