Roses are red
Violets are blue
Swirl, sniff, sip
Need I say more?
A little love, a lot of wine…or is it the other way around? On the most heart-packed day of the year, few things are as fun as hosting a wine tasting party, with your closest friends. Here’s the scoop and some inspiration should you want to host your own.
Six couples: one bottle per couple serves plenty of wine to taste and compare.
I asked every duo attending to choose one bottle of wine out of a list of varietals and assigned a median price range: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petite Syrah, Pinot Noir, Tempranillo, Merlot Sangiovese, or Zinfandel. It was to be a battle of the reds! I trusted our group would not disappoint with their wine choices.
There’s never a wrong time for a wine tasting of any kind. But February 14th is a natural match: flowers, chocolate, and wine. Check!
While wine tastings are typically hosted at restaurants, venues, and wine shops, there’s something magical about the quaint and private sanctuary of someone’s home for these events.
Taste. Wine. Blindly.
Well, not literally blinded. I’ll explain. It’s best for guests not to be swayed by price or label design; it happens. Assign a number to each bottle upon arrival and
hide store them inside tightly tied bags to prevent anyone from cheating (cough, we know who you are, cough). Everyone receives a themed score sheet. As the wine is poured and sipped, participants assign a number (in our case, 1-6) to their favorite: the higher the number, the higher the preference. At the end of the night, the scores are tabulated to decide the overall wine ranking. One glass per person, per wine, and a minimum two-ounce pour. This way, it’s easy to compare the wines as the night progresses.
Of course, you can’t have a wine tasting party without food. I mean, you can, but it’s not a good idea. I try to stay away from serving complicated foods. Instead, I stick to a tapas-style menu where the guests can serve themselves, as they please. Cheese platters are a given and always a crowd-pleaser. As a rule of thumb, I feature hard and soft cheeses of varying milk types. The combinations are endless, and I enjoy changing it up each time. I also fill trays with different crackers, jams, nuts, honey, berries, and grapes. Not only does this add color to my table, but each item pairs well with the cheese. Other great and easy options are empanadas, tea sandwiches, olives, and bacon-wrapped dates. I love to end on a sweet note, code for… a dessert table. By then, everyone’s tasted and scored the wine, and the results have been unveiled. The wine-happy chatter of friends discussing the results over chocolate always brings a smile to my face and warms my heart. Or maybe I’m a softie, and I should put this glass of wine down. What? You didn’t think I would write this post without one, did you?
Party keepsakes are not needed, but I love including several if possible. I always keep an eye out for party decor and accessories when shopping around (even when not actively planning an event). This time I scored heart-shaped cork coasters and color coordinating pencils while browsing the Michael’s wedding party section. I also hand-sketched each guests’ initials on synthetic corks, which I used as place cards. Not artsy-fartsy? You can use a stencil to make it easier! For a little bit of added fun, I also set up a photo-prop station. Because…selfies.
Back to the wines…
Here are the results from the last tasting:
RESULTS: (Average Price)
1st Place 2009 Angelica Zapata Malbec Alta ($60.00)
2nd Place 2014 Belle Glos Pinot Noir ($52.00)
3rd Place 2012 Sheridan Vineyard Boss Block ($53.00)
4th Place 2010 Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino ($62.00)
5th Place 2013 Clio Jumilla Spain ($47.00)
6th Place 2011 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley ($59.00)
Results vary greatly depending on the guest list. I was shocked the Jordan cabernet placed dead last. Even more so when I looked at my score sheet and noticed how low I scored it! What’s even funnier than the selfie stand and post-event antics? Reading the wine tasting notes! Some have few words to offer, and others…
Whether you choose to host a tasting,
or just open a bottle of your favorite wine soon,
cheers to a lovely Valentine’s Day celebration!
May it include love, laughter, friends, and of course, WINE!