How to host a Wine Tasting Dinner

This guide by Wine Folly will help you create and host your own wine tasting dinner including tips on planning, choosing wines, serving food, and ultimately making your get-together a great success.

A wine tasting gives people the rare opportunity to compare and contrast wines with one another. Everyone will learn a lot about wine, including their own preferences.

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  • Choose a selection of 4–6 wines that have a common theme
  • Enough wine glasses for each guest to taste 2 wines side-by-side
  • Serve wines in a well-lit room and the right temperature

Wine tastings that have a common theme are more educational and entertaining. Also, creating a theme will help you plan smarter. A wine tasting theme will focus on choosing the exact wines for your tasting. Here are a couple of classic themes to get you started:

  • A single wine from 2 regions or countries
  • A single wine from the same region by different producers
  • A single wine from different vintages

How much wine to serve?

A standard tasting pour is about half the size of a regular serving, at around 2–3 ounces (75–90 ml), and a bottle of wine contains about 10 taste servings.

Supplies

Wine, wine opener, identical wine glasses, water, napkins, a possibly white place mat, bread or crackers, spittoon, decanter for bold reds.

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Setting up the tasting

Before guests arrive you’ll want to set aside some time to prepare your space. First of all, decant any bold red wines that need air. Then set the table, organize your appetizer display and, finally, get your aperitif wine ready (your party’s “ice breaker” wine) as your guests start to arrive.

Tips

Start simple: professional wine tastings rarely include more than crackers (as a palate cleanser) along with a spittoon and a bottle of water. If they do offer food, it’s usually in the form of a self-serve appetizer station.

Easy appetizers: choose appetizers that are single-serve and easy to hold and eat with a napkin. Four easy-to-prep foods come to mind: cheese, fresh fruit, bread and cured meats.

Start with an aperitif: It seems odd to serve wine before a wine tasting, but it makes sense. Just a splash of some sparkling wine or a simple wine cocktail will relax your guests and get them into the spirit of the tasting. They also will be less inclined to hover over you while you’re getting everything ready.

Stagger wine service: If you stagger pouring the wines into 15 minute intervals, people will take longer to analyze and get involved taking notes about each wine.

Wine info print-outs: Print out the technical information of each wine (usually available on the producer’s website). This info will come in very handy during the tasting when people start asking questions.

 

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