So you want to learn more about wine, huh? Well, this is exciting! The best way to explore wine is to enjoy a selection of wine with good company. Grab a bunch of your favorite friends because I’ve got a few pointers to help you throw a fabulous non-snooty DIY Wine Tasting. Pinkies up!
Pick A Theme:
Like any good party, set a theme and roll with it. Springtime whites? Splurge-worthy reds? Special occasion bubblies? Ask each guest to bring one bottle of wine based on a set theme. An easy starting point is to pick a category of wine such as whites, reds, rose or sparkling wines. Then, have each guest select a bottle based on a different region, such as white wines from California, New Zealand, France and Italy.
A classic oaked Chardonnay from California is a great ice-breaker wine to greet your guests. It’s also a fun way to explore the aromas and flavors between fruit and oak notes in the wine.
Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand is like sunshine in a glass. You’ll most likely get bright citrus fruits on the nose and palate. Dig a little deeper and try to identify classic herbaceous notes typically found in Sauvignon Blancs.
Get down with a Gewurztraminer from Alsace. This highly aromatic wine will have delicious tropical notes jumping out the glass, including its signature lychee scent.
Treat guests to a sweet treat and pop open a Moscato d’Asti from Italy. It has a slight frizzante flair and pairs wonderfully with creamy vanilla, caramel and coconut flavored desserts.
Get a Little Geeky:
Ask each guest to come prepared with a few fun facts about their wine. Wine labels will indicate their country of origin, vintage year and grape variety. A quick google search can help find fun facts about the wine growing region and about grape variety characteristics.
Pass the Cheese, Please:
While wine tastes fabulous on its own, it’s always fun to experiment how different foods can change the way a wine tastes. My personal go-to for entertaining guests is to serve a mouth-watering charcuterie board. Hit up your local Trader Joe’s and pick out a selection of cheeses, meats, crackers and fruits.
The Tasting Game:
Below is a simple wine tasting method for newbie winos. Be sure to provide pen and paper for guests to jot down their notes.
See. Set your wine glass against a white piece of paper and observe the color. If it’s a red wine, do you see hints of purple, ruby or garnet? In your white wine, any specks of green or yellow?
Swirl. Place your glass on the table and gently circle the glass around to release the aromas. Careful not to spill!
Smell. Bring the glass to your nose and take a few deep inhales. What aromas do you notice? Are you getting fruity notes such as apple, peach, cherry or blackberry? What about some spice or earthy notes?
Sip. Finally, the best part! Take a sip and swish the wine around in your mouth for a few seconds. Start to think about what it tastes like. What fruit, spice, earth and oak notes come across your palate? Does it taste similar to it’s smell?
Spit. Ok, this step is optional. Serious tasters like to spit their wine so they can evaluate without becoming intoxicated. I say skip this step and keep the party going!
This simple method of tasting is a great way to get your palate familiar with how a bottle of wine from a particular grape variety and region tastes like. Practice makes perfect! You can refine your palate through sheer curiosity, appreciation and by drinking lots of wine.
All good things begin with a glass of vino.
I currently hold a Level 2 Intermediate Certificate from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust.