I love to share our home with friends and family, especially during the holidays. And being the Type A, Enneagram 1 that I am, I have a very methodical strategy when hosting. I’m going to break down how to host a holiday wine tasting party into digestible bites to help you decrease stress, remember all the details and host a party that both you and your guests are sure to enjoy!
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How to Host a Wine Party
There are so many directions you can take when hosting a wine tasting party. I chose to begin at 7 pm and provide small bites and charcuterie.
In terms of the wine tasting, I decided to ask each guest to bring their favorite bottle of wine for around $15. I did not specify red or white. Guests often enjoy feeling like they are able to contribute something so this is a good way to get everyone involved. I also purchased prizes for the first, second and third highest ranked wine. Who doesn’t love a little friendly competition?
Some other ways you can host a wine tasting party would be to provide 8-10 bottles yourself and purchase them at all different price points. I’m thinking from Trader Joe’s 2 buck chuck up to more expensive bottles. You could also buy different types of red and white wines and have guests guess what style of wine each bottle is. For example: cab, pinot noir, chardonnay, etc. Another idea is to provide multiple bottles of the same style of wine but from different regions around the world and choose your favorite region based on flavor profiles. The possibilities are endless. I’m just here to get some ideas flowing while offering my tried and true party layout.
STEP 1: Send Invitations
This day in age, I know snail mail is fading while electronic methods of communication are becoming increasingly popular. Personally, I don’t sift through our mail very often (whoops). I don’t lay eyes on mail in a timely manner, so I prefer electronic means. For me, it’s more reliable and timely. I remember one holiday season, I sent our Christmas cards out early December and our friends and family did not receive them until January :(. One card actually floated around the country for four months until finally getting returned to us in April. I just don’t have much trust left in these methods!
My solution and recommendation is to send electronic invites via Paperless Post. They are cute, customizable and a little less formal. Perfect for your low key wine tasting party! You will want to include all the details on the invitation, including:
– Party time
-What guests should bring (if anything)
There is also an RSVP option on Paperless Post so guests can immediately reply and you have a quick, accurate head count.
STEP 2: Gather Supplies
After you send invites and get a head count, it’s time to start gathering supplies. I ordered most of my supplies quickly and easily from Amazon, some from TJ Maxx, and the rest from Target.
-Set of inexpensive, generic stemmed wine glasses, conducive to tasting a variety of wine styles.
STEP 3: Create your Menu
I put together two food stations for my wine tasting party. One for people to graze on in the beginning upon arrival, and one for the wine tasting table to cleanse our palates between sips. I’ll start with the light Hors D’oeuvres I planned and made.
I wanted all snacks to be easy, bite sized and a good mix of filling meat and bread to soak up all the drinking. I started with party crockpot meatballs because they are so easy. You will be thankful for one recipe you don’t have to babysit and spend active cooking time on!
Because it was a holiday party, I wanted some festive food as well. I made antipasto skewers with rosemary in between in the shape of a wreath, and baked brie with a honey balsamic cranberry sauce.
To finish off the spread, I made french dip sliders, and a friend brought sweet and savory bacon puff pastry twists. It was just the right amount and variety of food! And I was lucky enough to have my friend Bessie Crocker as my sous chef for the evening. All recipes can be found on my “Hosting” Pinterest board.
In addition, you can pin this post here for quick reference and safe keeping!
For the wine tasting room, I kept the snack and drink options strictly to palate cleansers. I provided champagne on ice in a bucket, room temperature water in a pitcher, and coffee beans to reset your sniffer.
To munch I provided green olives, green apple slices, french bread, water crackers and dark chocolate. All found to be palate cleansers good for wine tasting during my admittedly amateur google searches.
STEP 4: Anticipate the Details and Have Fun!
I had 10 people total coming to my wine tasting party, 5 gals and 5 guys. Our dining room table comfortably seats 6, so I anticipated splitting up by gender to do the actual wine tasting and scoring to keep it comfortable. I provided a wine charm, wine glass, water/spittoon cup and wine scorecard for each guest to grab on their way into the dining room.
The wine score card provided numbers 1-5 to judge aroma, flavor, finish and overall rating. There was a small space for notes, and room to guess the style of wine as well. There was a box for the overall rating, which was easy to add up at the end for each bottle to determine the winners.
Other small touches that add to the overall aesthetic are colorful organic details. I trimmed sprigs of rosemary from my garden to use on the antipasto skewer wreath, and to scatter on the wine tasting table. I sprinkled fresh and festive cranberries on the tasting table as well, and provided cranberry juice for “poinsettias” with champagne for guests upon arrival.
This would be a perfect opportunity to add a pop of color with dried orange slices. I also created 2 fresh floral arrangements with a mix of white and red flowers from Whole Foods.
The party was a hit. Everyone enjoyed the food, the wine and the friendship. I discovered I ranked Pinot Noirs above the Cabernet Sauvignons, a style I previously thought was my favorite. I will share a tip if you want to win…no guarantees, but at the wine party I hosted the top 2 wines were highly rated staff favorites from two different wine & liquor stores in town! Neither were wines we had tried before. But both outperformed personal “favorites” we had all heard of and were familiar with. Just some food for thought!
So what do you think? Are you ready to host your own wine tasting party now? I’d love to know how it goes, what kind of tasting you decided to set up and which wines were crowd favorites. I hope this guide helps you relax, enjoy hosting and put on a great party for your guests.