Hosting A Blind Wine Tasting Party
Hosting a blind wine tasting party is more complicated, but also more engaging, than hosting a traditional wine and food party. This event can stimulate you and your guests to learn more about wine in a fun and relaxed way.
Yet, the success of the party depends on a few essential steps. But don’t let this scare you. This guide will show you in detail how to host an outstanding event that will impress beginners and experienced wine drinkers alike.
Preparing For The Blind Wine Tasting Party
Preparing the blind wine tasting, and the party itself is the most important step for the success of the event. The pre-party stage includes choosing the wines, wrapping the bottles in burlap bags or paper, deciding which food to serve but also choosing a party theme and sending invites to your guests.
Getting Started: Choosing The Theme
Obviously, an illuminated idea of throwing a party is not enough to get started. The first step is to choose the theme. Now, this might confuse you! After all, a blind wine tasting party might already sound like a theme. But it’s not!
A popular theme is a Specific Appellation theme. For example, choosing only wines from Southern Italy, or only from Napa Valley, and ask the guests to identify them. Another popular theme is Specific Variety, which includes wines of that specific variety but from different regions.
It is recommended to choose a theme that complies with your and your guests’ experience. If you’re all beginners, a Specific Appellation or Price Point theme makes it easier to identify the wines. A Specific Variety theme is more indicated if you’re all experts.
Choosing The Wines
The next step is to buy the wines for the blind wine tasting party. Choosing the bottles depends on the theme. For a Specific Variety party, for example, you could choose 5 or 6 bottles of Pinot Noir and ask your guests to identify where it comes from.
A Specific Appellation theme gives you the possibility to choose whatever wines you like from a specific region. For this reason, this theme is more recommended for beginners, as the guests will only have to identify the variety. You can also include both reds and whites, or focus on a specific type based on your preferences.
When choosing the wines, a thing to consider is the price range. Unless you’re not all true connoisseurs, choose quality wines with average prices, and try to stick in a price range for all wine. A $15-$25 price range is typically acceptable.
If you’re wondering how many wines to include, we suggest 3 or 4 wines if you want to use only white or only red wine, and no more than six wines if you want to serve both.
Draft A Guest List
A party is not a party without guests. So, decide who you want to invite. This could be anyone, from your siblings to your best friends, co-workers, or even your regular clients if you run a wine business. How many people you want to invite is also up to you, but knowing a number will help you determine how much wine you need.
Sending Invites To Your Wine Blind Tasting
We live in a modern world and sending invites in an envelope isn’t a requirement. Yet, it’s stylish. You can make your own invites and print them on high-quality paper or have them made by a specialized center. Important details to include are the theme of the party, date, time, and location.
If you believe hard copy invites are simply old-fashioned, just send texts or emails but don’t forget to mention the essential details above. Also, ask the guests to confirm their presence.
Preparing The Party
By now, you have a date, time, and location. You know how many people are attending and it’s time to prepare the scene. Here are the things you’ll need:
You need it for two reasons. First, it’s no fun attending a party with no food. Your guests might get hungry, and there should be at least snacks. Second, eating something between a wine and another can help your guests notice the differences between the wines.
For this reason, choosing the right food is also essential. You can’t just have a blind wine tasting party barbecue. Go for finger foods and choose dishes that pair well with most wines. You’ll never go wrong with a rich selection of cheeses and nuts.
Another idea is to pair cheeses with Italian ham and fruits. In this case, the best fruits to choose are melon and grapes.
As for the drinks, don’t serve anything else than the chosen wines and maybe still water during the party. For the after party, you can prepare a delicious wine cocktail.
Blind Wine Tasting Kit
A blind wine tasting kit includes numbered bags for the bottles, sheets of paper, and pencils. You can either make your own or choose one of the many kits available on the market. The important is that all the guests must receive enough sheets of paper and a pencil, used to note down the aromas and flavors identified. Eventually, the guests will use their notes to identify the type of wine in the bottle.
Instead of numbered bags, you can wrap the bottles in dark paper and number them. Regardless of your choice, our suggestion is to use similar bottles which will make it more difficult for the guests to guess what wine they were served.
Wine Tasting Glasses
If you want to make the blind wine tasting party a recurring event, or if you’re hosting many wine parties throughout the year, just buy a set of wine tasting glasses. However, this is not a requirement. You can use traditional wine glasses with the same success, especially if you decided to serve only whites or only reds.
Regardless of the glasses you choose, just make sure you have enough of them for all the guests, considering that it is recommended to serve each wine in a clean glass.
You already decided which wines to serve, but now you have to make sure they are ready to be tasted. Chill the whites to serving temperature and decant the reds if needed.
If the red wines need decanting, simply decant them before the party, then pour them back in the bottle for the blind tasting. Alternatively, label sufficient decanters with numbers that match those on the bottles and serve them directly from a decanter or carafe.
During The Blind Wine Tasting Party
Your guests have arrived, you’ve done the small talk part and you’re all ready to start the blind tasting.
At this point, give each guest a pencil and a sheet of paper, asking them to write their name down. Take the first bottle and pour the wine into the glasses, then invite your guests to taste it. Instruct the guests to first smell the bouquet and write down any identified aromas. Then, instruct the guests to taste the wine and write the identified flavors.
After each guest tasted the wine and finished writing the notes, invite everyone to taste some cheese or some of the finger foods you have prepared. This will help them individuate new aromas and flavors in the next wine.
Serve the second wine following the same steps, then invite your guest to have a bite again. Do the same for all the other wines.
When the guests have tasted all the wines, serve your wine cocktail and snacks.
Ending The Blind Wine Tasting Party
It’s now time to reveal the wines and check whether the guests have identified the right wines or not. Take the bottles out of the bags or unwrap them, one at a time.
For each wine, say its name, the region it comes from and tell your guests which are the main flavors and aromas. This will help them confront the wine’s bouquet and taste with their notes and see if they have identified the correct wine.
In the end, you can announce the winner of the blind wine tasting party, which is the guest who has identified most wines correctly. Although it’s not a requirement, it could be nice to have some trophy or prize for the winner.