How to Plan Your Wine Tasting Party Ideas 
(in 10 easy steps)

Wine tasting party ideas - unlabelled bottles …And once you nail down the budget and wine for your tasting, pulling off your wine tasting party ideas will be a cinch.

  • Your friends will be guaranteed an unforgettable time, as well as enjoy a new appreciation for wine.
  • You’ll also be organizing an event that features alcohol, yet doesn’t need people chugging it down to enjoy it.

But before you enjoy all this success, you need to plan your wine party ideas. Not easy, when budget is involved.

And if you don’t know much about wine, knowing where to begin can be even more of a headache.

Being a newbie to tastings myself, I’ve come up with 10 steps to help you with yours.

Two points about these wine tasting party ideas

1. Everyone you invite needs to know it’s a wine tasting, not a drinking party. The objective is to educate in the art of flavor. So be careful who you invite.

2. A blind tasting is the type of wine party I’ve enjoyed and will show you here. This is where the tasters won’t know which wine is in which bottle. This tasting is both fun and easy to do.

Your 10 steps to successful wine tasting party ideas

Pre-planning decisions

Step 1 – how many wine tasters to invite

This is up to you. But bear in mind, the more people you invite, the more wine you’ll need – and the more pressure on your budget.

As you’ll see below, the wines you choose will have been selected for a specific reason. Some of them won’t be cheap.

  • For that reason, limit guests to a few close friends (8-10 people), especially with your first tasting.
  • That way, you can use it as a testbed for future events, where you may decide to up the numbers.
Step 2 – decide when to have your tasting…

Choose a time and date. Once the date is set, use this checklist to work backwards from it, deciding what needs doing.

Step 3 – … and where to host it

Ideally, your location should be roomy enough to accommodate a few tables and chairs, plus space for mingling.

  • A dining room or large lounge is the perfect option.
  • If not, consider hiring a function room in a restaurant. If the weather’s okay, throw a garden party tasting.
Step 4 – the number of wines versus the budget

Deciding which wines to sample (and how much to buy) is never easy, when you’re also trying to set a realistic budget at the same time.

  • Some wines may end up costing more than others, so it’s vital you set a budget ASAP, to avoid surprises.
  • But you also don’t want to come across as a tightwad.

Easiest way to do Step 4? Use a wine-tasting theme

This isn’t the same as a party theme. Here, the wine itself is the theme.

  • Showcasing the same brand of wine but from different vintages, is one example.
  • Another is tasting wines from various wineries, yet with the same vintage.
  • A third way is by picking a region and sampling different wines from it.

Who pays for the wine?

You, as host, can’t be expected to pay for all of it.

  • So divide the total cost by the number of people attending. That way, everyone contributes a small cover charge.

Start buying the wines

Step 5 – seek advice from a reliable wine merchant

Unless you know your wines, consider drawing on such expertise.

  • Make sure you tell them your theme and budget limits. That way, they can suggest what suits your wine tasting party ideas the best.

As well as buying your wines…

  • Stock up on a few palate cleansing foods, that tasters can switch to during the party.
  • Think plain bread, crackers and other flavorless nibbles.
Step 6 – create an “Evaluate the Wine" worksheet…

…for tasters to jot down thoughts for each wine.

  • Adapt an Excel spreadsheet, with numbers for the wines down the left; and columns for taste, aroma and palate along the top.
  • Make sure there’s enough space for comments and you have pencils.

Set up on the day of the tasting

Wine tasting party ideas - a wine party Step 7 – start decorating your tasting room

Tables should go along the edge, with chairs and mingle space in the middle.

  • Cover each tabletop with a white cloth, and decide how many bottles to place per table.
  • Include a tray of clean wine glasses, a pitcher of water, and a small spit bucket for tasters to use.
  • Set aside a separate table for your palate cleansers, along with napkins, plates and water.

Uh, a spit bucket?

Remember, these are wine tasting party ideas, not drinking ones.

  • Tasters are encouraged to spit out the wine they taste, not swallow it. That way, they can evaluate the wine with a clearer head.
Step 8 – prepare the wine

If your wines are in the fridge, remove them an hour before the tasting, to warm them up.

  • Uncork all bottles, making sure you remove their labels.
  • Wrap each one in red paper (like in the 1st photo), marked by a number.

If you want to join the blind tasting, ask a friend to number the bottles instead. That way, you’ll be as clueless as the other tasters.

Step 9 – get ready to start the tasting

As soon as everyone’s arrived, explain how your tasting works, including the spit bucket thing. Give each person a copy of the worksheet and a pencil.

Then let them loose.

Step 10 – close with a sharing session

It’s here tasters share their thoughts about each wine, including guesses as to which is what.

Impart your newly acquired wine knowledge as well, they’ll thank you for it.

Step 11? – post party

Have everyone help you clear up. What happens after is up to you. You may want to lay on some proper food or drink the leftover wines.

How do you like to round off your wine tasting party ideas? Let us know here.

Images: ccarlstead, HerryLawford

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