Wine Tasting Party Ideas
Wine tasting party ideas can help to make your wine tasting more fun. And wine tasting is supposed to be fun, isn't it? Whether you plan for a wine tasting game or other ideas for wine tasting party plans, spicing things up a bit definitely helps to lighten the mood, start conversation and get everyone involved. Without any plan, your guests may just sit there drinking wine and not knowing what else to do, particularly if most of them are beginners in wine tasting. So peruse some of these wine tasting party ideas to be sure your wine tasting party is fun!
- Plan a Blind Tasting: One of the most common wine tasting party ideas, blind tastings can be a lot of fun. The basic idea is that you cover each bottle so that guests don't know what they are drinking. Either you, the host, can blind all the wines or you can ask your guests to each bring a wine that has already been blinded. Then at some predetermined point you reveal the wines. This is a great way to get rid of preconceptions so that the wines can be evaluated on their merits alone, not on the name of the producer, the region, the label or the price. There are also a lot of fun wine tasting party ideas or a wine tasting game that you can add to a blind tasting to make it even more interesting, some of which are mentioned below. For more info about how to host a blind tasting, see our Blind Wine Tasting page.
- Insert a Ringer: A "ringer" is a wine that is substituted for one that is expected. In other words, it is a wine that stands out from the rest which all have some theme. Usually, this is done in blind tastings and the ringer has some relation to the general theme as well but in a different way. It is easiest to understand with a few examples.
For example, your wine tasting theme may be red Bordeaux wines. In a blind tasting lineup all your guests are expecting all Bordeaux wines. As a ringer you could throw in a California Cabernet Sauvignon. Obviously they come from different regions, but Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the primary grapes grown in Bordeaux, so there are some similarities in the wines. It can be fun to see if anyone is able to identify a wine as being different from the rest or if it can fool some guests.
Just about anything can be a ringer as long as it has some characteristic that makes it somewhat related to the other wines. Insert another grape varietal from the same region, or another wine from the same grape varietal from a different region or country. If your tasting is all from one vintage you can insert one of a different vintage. To make it fun, you can tell your guests that one is a ringer and ask each guest to vote on which one they this is different from the rest.
- Scoring Party: A great way to get guests involved in the wine tasting process is to print up scoring sheets so that guests can score each wine in some fashion. This could be a numerical score, like the 100 point scale. Or it could simply be to rank all the wines they taste from favorite to least favorite. Then, at the end, you all compare scoring notes and see which the favorites were. You may be surprised! Oftentimes particular wines can be polarizing, being loved by some tasters and hated by others. If you combine a scoring party with a blind tasting this can be a great way to make unbiased notes on the wines. You may find that the least expensive wine comes out as the favorite, or visa versa!
- Games: There are some wine tasting games which can be great wine tasting party ideas. Many of these are based on blind wine tasting party ideas:
- Guess the Grape Varietal: The theme of your tasting may be a grape varietal, so that all your wines are from the Merlot grape for example. Taste them blind and have guests vote on which grape varietal they think the wines are.
- Guess the Region or Country: Likewise, have all the wines come from one country or wine producing region. Then ask guests to make guesses as to which region they came from. Another option is to have all the wines be from one grape, for example Syrah, but have half of them from one region (such as California) and half of them from another (like the Rhône Valley in France). See who can correctly identify the most as Californian or French.
- Scoring Party: As mentioned above, you can have guests score the wines. Then, at the end, the guest who brought the wine which scored the highest overall wins a prize. Or, the guest who ranked the most wines closes to the overall tally wins.
- Award Prizes: For any of the wine tasting party ideas above, you can plan a prize or prizes that you will award your guests. Explain the contest at the beginning of the tasting. For example, the winner may be the guest who brought the wine which was scored highest, or the guest that correctly identified the most wines, or otherwise guessed most accurately. The prize can be anything but to keep with the theme should usually be a wine related item such as a bottle of wine, a corkscrew, or other wine accessory.
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