Vidya Kathirgamalingam - 25 Feb, 2020

How to host your own wine tasting at home

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I find that there’s always nothing more therapeutic than enjoying good wine and good company in Summer.

So when it comes to organising a catch – up with my friends, wine tasting parties are often my go-to option – because who doesn’t love wine?

Not only is it the perfect season to host one, but it’s also a good excuse to splurge on those expensive wines that you’ve always wanted to try.

While it’s easy to think that you’re expected to be a sophisticated food connoisseur in order to be the host, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Follow this guide on how you can host a wine – tasting party from the comfort of your own home.

Choose a selection of wines

The first step is to choose a selection of wines. Feel free to choose a variety of red wines, white wines and sparkling wines. You will only need around 5, as having too many options can overwhelm the palette.  

There is an infinite amount of combinations you can choose from and it can be overwhelming.  I sometimes find myself staring at the rows and rows of wines at the bottle shop, riddled with pure indecision. Something that helps me to narrow down my options is choosing a theme for the party. Here are just a few of the themes that I like to use:

  • Vertical tasting: serve different vintages of the same type of wine.   
  • Wines by region: Offer wines from different regions to your guests.
  • Food and Wine: Choose a cuisine and then pick wines that will compliment it. For instance, pair Spanish wines with tapas.
  • Blind wine tasting: cover your wine bottles in a brown paper bag and create a competition by getting your guests to guess the type of wine that they are tasting.

Prepare snacks

You don’t want your guests drinking on an empty stomach – so make sure to have some snacks. Cheese, smoked meats, fruits and even dark chocolates will help to cleanse your palate and will go nicely with wines. Try pairing Parmesan with your Prosecco, Brie with Merlot, Feta with sweet wines or Blue Cheese with your Pinot Noir.

Once you’ve curated your selection of snacks, it’s time to build your cheese board.

You want your board to be aesthetically pleasing, so keep in mind the arrangement and the colours. When I’m not feeling particularly artistic, I love looking online for inspiration. For instance, this Pinterest Board has some creative ideas that you can easily replicate!

Don’t forget to store your wine properly!

With the weather warming up, you might find your wine bottles sweating and your wine tasting flat if it’s not stored properly. It’s recommended that you store your white wines at 2 – 10 degrees Celsius and red wines should be stored at 12 – 18 degrees Celsius.

Related: Forget the green thumb: 5 house plants that won’t die

Serving the wine

Did you know that there are different wine glasses designed specifically to suit different wines? Make sure that you have the right type of glass to go with the wine that you’re serving:

  • Red wines: A glass with a wider bowl is ideal as it will aerate the wine and release more of the flavour.
  • White wines: Choose a narrower bowl to preserve the delicate flavours and the chill of the wine.
  • Sparkling wines: A fluted bowl will reduce its exposure to air so that it will keep its bubbly taste. 

Demonstrate how to taste wine

Wine tasting involves all the senses, so take the time to really take in all elements of the wine.  First, look at the colours of the wine by tilting the glass in the light so that you can observe the density, saturation and age of the wine.

Next, you’ll want to take in the fragrances of the wine. Swirl the wine around the glass then smell the glass. Think about whether the wine is fruity, herbal, floral, spiced or earthy.

After you’ve done this, you can finally taste the wine. Take a small sip and drink the wine while simultaneously inhaling air. This will aerate the wine in your mouth so that it will amplify its taste. Is the wine balanced? Is it too acidic? Or is it too strong?  Discussing your opinions on the wine will be sure to get the conversation amongst your guests flowing for the rest of the night.

Words by Vidya Kathirgamalingam

Related: A host’s guide to throwing the best-ever dinner party

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