the process of hosting a wine tasting can be difficult and overwhelming to say the least. there are so many things to consider when choosing your wine selection, and an endless number of options on what kind of experience to create for your guests. so we’re here to simplify the process for you.
step one // set your limits
as far as the types of wines you’ll be sampling, let the season dictate that for you. in the cooler months, we like to stick with a nice selection of reds. it’s best to offer a range of intensities and flavor notes, but be sure that your choices still complement one another. we began with four basic reds: a merlot, a sangiovese, a cabernet sauvignon, and a malbec. if you don’t already have a few favorite labels in mind, head to your local wine shop, and ask for recommendations of each type that are complex enough for tasting, but not so distinct that they cannot be paired with food. another limit to consider is price. we kept all of our bottles under $10, because you can get some pretty phenomenal wines at this price point.
step two // food pairings
in our humble opinion, there’s no better pair to wine than cheese and fruit. it’s not too filling, and versatile enough to work with most people’s food aversions or allergies. it’s also wise to incorporate a variety of textures that will enhance your guests’ experience of savoring each bite. we created a spread of dried figs, apricots, pears, apples, blackberries, almonds, olives, dark chocolate, baguettes, charcuterie, honey and marmalade. we are lucky enough to live in a city that has amazing cheese shops like antonelli’s, so once our wines were purchased, we had their cheese mongers hand select the perfect pairs for each one, including a variety of goat, sheep, and cow’s milk cheese. i mean, how beautiful are these cheeses?
we presented each wine’s pairings on its own serving board so that guests had some guidance. they were invited to taste the wine on it’s own, and then with the designated pairings to see what new flavors they detected and how the wine changed on their palate.
given that we’re hosting an afternoon of wine sampling, it’s extremely important to have actual food on hand too. we kept it simple with roasted cauliflower and a few savory galettes. whatever you choose, just ensure that your guests are not drinking on an empty stomach.
step three // guide your guests
we opted for a blind tasting, because it allows guests to simply enjoy the wine, and not be influenced by the label or price tag. we hid our labels by wrapping each bottle in twine, but numbered them so that guests could pick their favorite and we could reveal the type of wine at the end. each guest was given a notebook to jot down their thoughts of each wine – noting flavors that jumped out at them, the intensity, color, aroma, and finish of each wine. we also wanted a truly intentional experience, so we guided the process by using instruction cards that invited our guests to look, swirl, sip and savor.
we also set the tone for a distraction free event by banning cell phones from the table. this allowed guests to truly engage with one another and be present in the moment. it also made for great conversation and lots of laughter.
this is just glimpse into our process, but we’d love to hear from you! any questions you have about hosting your own wine tasting? let us know in the comments!
the bloom series is an ongoing collaboration between forage + fodder, bricolage curated florals, and photo by betsy. each season we will bring you seasonally curated experiences along with simple floral tips and recipes. you can view more of our bloom series here.