Tips to Hosting a Wine Tasting Party

Two of my favorite {we'll call it} hobbies are wine making and wine tasting. Going around to different wineries is loads of fun and I've probably been to a vast majority of the wineries in North Carolina now. But even more fun is hosting your own wine tasting. I hosted one the other week, the first in our new house and it's a great way to get all your friends together for a good time.

There are a ton of ideas out there on Pinterest and ultimately I figured out exactly what I wanted to do. I sent out evites to several friends telling them to bring their favorite bottle of wine and we would supply dinner. I asked them to RSVP with the types of wine they were bringing so I could make tasting sheets.

I decided to do a blind tasting just to make things fun and interesting. I asked for the tall bags they use at the ABC store and marked each with a number. You could even supply an incentive and award a bottle of wine for the winner. We had a nice selection that made it even more tough to guess: 3 whites, 2 reds and 1 rose. I recommend 5-6 wines for a good solid tasting. I supplied a "Wine Tasting Challenge" sheet where guests could fill in what they thought each of the six wines were.

I also used Wine Markers to write everyone's names on the base of their wine glasses so no one got them mixed up. Another idea I saw that was super cute was purchasing some $1 wine glasses from the dollar store and panting them with black chalkboard paint and writing names on the base with chalk {see here}.

I created an array of meats, finger foods and appetizer style dishes that pair well with wine so everyone could taste and pair at their leisure. This kept things light and social and takes the pressure off you for being a sommelier. As a rule of thumb, I recommend at least 2 meats, cheese & crackers and a fruit or veggie tray. Also try and make things that can be made ahead or possibly in a crockpot so you're not having to dash about at the last minute throwing everything together.

Here's the menu I ultimately went with:
- Smoked Cocktail Sausages in BBQ Sauce
- Meatballs in Marinara
- BBQ Sliders
- Fontina Cheese Dip {recipe here} *Note: This was really tasty but needed a lot of attention. I recommend something with creamy cheese that won't thicken and need lots of stirring.
- Soft Pretzel Bites {recipe here}
- Bruschetta
- Cheese & Crackers
- Veggie Tray with Dip
- Assorted Chocolates & Nuts

The most involved element was the pretzel bites but those were also the biggest hit. I tried to go for the things you typically crave when drinking wine: cheese, crackers, chocolate, salty nuts and round out with heavy finger foods that would fill you up and all of those I did in crockpots so it was super easy. I purchased some butcher paper and used that as a tablecloth that I could also write up descriptions of each dish on.

And lastly, some parting tips: I highly recommend having a pitcher of sangria {click here for my go-to sangria recipe} or other wines that people can have with dinner so they're not chugging through the wine that everyone is supposed to be tasting. And water! It's all about hydration, make sure there is water available which also helps as a palate cleanser. And always recommend that there are designated drivers in company and have non-alcoholic beverages for them.


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