Hosting a Wine Tasting Party

Part of the joy of the holidays is getting to host and attend holiday parties. From cookie swaps to ugly sweater parties, the season is filled with get-togethers. If you’re a fan of good wine, why not try hosting a wine-tasting party this December? Dan Amatuzzi has some great suggestions in his new book, First Course in Wine.

Wine and dine with friends is a great way to unwind form all the stress, tasting and sipping different mix of wine over a wine tasting party is simply exhilarating and gives an engaging and fun filled atmosphere to get the best feedback about their choices about the different tastes. If you are new to this unique way of entertaining your friends, click here  to get the complete list of supplies like the cutlery, pitchers and other cue’s.

Host Your Own Wine-Tasting Party
Excerpted from First Course in Wine by Dan Amatuzzi

Now that you’re enjoying and learning more about wine, why not share your new interest with friends and family by hosting a wine-tasting party? But before you do, follow these steps to ensure your event goes smoothly.

Dan’s Tip:
Be sure to have on hand a bowl for dumping wine. Inevitably there will be guests and wines that disagree. Encouraging them to finish their glass without the option of dumping is improper etiquette. It is also important to have water readily available.

Choose the format.

Consider what you’ll serve. Are you aiming for just a wine tasting or more of a social food/wine event? Is it a formal sit-down or a casual mingling with friends? The answers will dictate the wines you serve and how you serve them. Pairing regional foods and wines is a good place to begin your wine-hosting career. Whether it is a sit-down dinner or finger foods and nibbles, throughout the evening pair the food and wines that are typically served together in the host country. For example, a well-rounded Spanish food and wine event may look something like this:

Tomato-rubbed bread with ham
Casteller – Cava Brut

Octopus with Potatoes
Bodegas Santiago Ruiz – Rías Biaxas

Castilla y Leon
Roast Lamb and Garlic Soup
Telmo Rodríguez – Ribera del Duero, “Gazur”

Flan de Café
Emilio Lustau – Pedro Ximénez Sherry, “San Emilio”

If you want to focus more on the wine, aim for areas that are known for a wide variety of styles. For a California tasting, a nice spread would be six wines: one red and one white from the southern, central, and northern appellations. Or you can focus only on Napa Valley, taking three wines from the valley floor appellations and three from the mountain appellations. Another option is to do a U.S. tasting and serve wines from New York, Oregon, Washington, and California.

A different way to go is to offer five or six (or more) wines that are made using one specific grape variety. Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc are grown all over the world, and the wines they produce are widely available, and usually starkly different in color and body. If it is the summertime and white wine is on everyone’s mind, try throwing a Riesling-themed event with one Riesling wine each from Australia, Argentina, California, France, Austria, and Germany. You can evaluate the similarities and differences en route to the ultimate wine experience.

Choose the stemware.

You can have one glass for each wine per person. It is not necessary but it helps in a more formal setting. For a more casual approach, use just one glass per guest and encourage tasters to re-use their glass. As discussed before, the sizes and shapes of the glasses shouldn’t be a major headache for you, but if you have different sets of glasses, try to use the wider-bowled glasses for the more aromatic wines to showcase the bouquets.

Decide the order of serving.

Some people opt to have all the wines available right from the start, while others like to control the pace and the wines being served. If you’re going to taste the wines one at a time, start light and build up to the heavier wines. It is optional to provide any kind of write-up or literature about the wines, but guests appreciate it because there are usually a few in the bunch who are shy about asking questions in front of others.

Here are some different kinds of wine tastings to try at your next get-together:

Vertical Tasting
Tasting different vintages of the same wine in sequential order, usually from youngest to oldest. This is a great exercise to understand the benefits of the aging process. (Example—tasting the 1990, 1995, 1998, 2000, and 2004 vintages of Elvio Cogno’s Barolo, Ravera)

Horizontal Tasting
Tasting different wines of the same vintage, usually from the same region. This is a fun exercise as it shows how different producers make stylistically unique wines although the grapes are grown within a small zone. (Example–tasting red Burgundy wines from the 2005 vintage only from the Côte de Nuits.)

Blind Tasting
While challenging, this kind of wine tasting can be the most exciting as it involves evaluating the wine on its merits without knowing the origin or the grape. All too often, knowing where the wine is from and by whom it is made can influence our opinions. In a blind tasting, we practice how to decipher the regional traits of wines.

A First Course in Wine

Whether you enjoy the occasional glass of wine or you like to have one every night with dinner, Dan Amatuzzi’s A First Course in Wine will provide you with everything you need to know about how to smell, taste, and enjoy fine wines. With stunning imagery and helpful diagrams throughout, you’ll learn:

*the science behind winemaking
*how to interpret wine labels without stress
*how to identify flavors in your wine
*how to pair wines with foods
*what to look for on restaurant wine lists
*glossary of terms and a pronunciation guide
*detailed information about vineyards and more

Life is too short for wine you won’t enjoy. Once you’ve taken this first course, you will read your restaurant’s wine list with confidence and browse through the wine selection at your store with the knowledge that you’re going to walk home with the perfect wine in hand.

Dan Amatuzzi was the wine director at Mario Batali’s OTTO before he became Eataly’s beverage director. He studied wine production in Florence and was chosen to Zagat’s inaugural class of New York’s rising “30 under 30” culinary stars.

Want everyone in one easy kit? No problem. Be sure to check out How to Host a Wine Tasting Party: The Complete Kit. Coming in February 2014!

How to Host a Wine Tasting Party

Whether you’re a wine connoisseur or just a wine lover who loves to throw a party, this complete kit is for you. Forget about having to spend time making checklists of what you need and what you don’t. Dan Amatuzzi’s How to Host a Wine Tasting Party contains everything you’ll need to host a wine tasting in your own home. A wine tasting party is fun and educational for everyone from novices to sophisticated wine drinkers. Within this all-inclusive kit are the elements to be a terrific host, including cloth wine bottle covers, tasting score pads, a cheat sheet, glass markers, and an entertaining book that introduces you to the ins and outs of tasting wine in a comfortable, festive, social setting in your own home.

This kit includes:

80 page illustrated book that explains all the details of hosting your own wine tasting
4 tasting notepads
4 cloth wine bags
4 tags to label the wine bottles when you are doing your tasting
1 wine and cheese wheel that helps you pair delicious wine and cheese combinations
1 wine aroma wheel that will help you identify and describe wines in a more detailed way

So grab some glasses, start pouring, and let’s have a party!